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For the sole use of the officer to whom issued* 




No. I, 


Compiled and arranged by 
Capt H;'c HALE, General Staff. 

November, 1903. ^Sii^ft^Wttt. 





Office Chief of Staff 

Document No. 217. 



I. Historical Sketch 5 

II. Geography, Physical and Descriptive 11 

(a) Area and boundaries of country 11 

(b) Discussion of the general geography 11 

Mountain ranges 11 

River system and lakes 13 

Climate 15 

Fauna 21 

Flora 22 

(c) Coastline 23 

General description, bays, gulfs, peninsulas, capes, adja- 
cent islands, soundings, harbors, anchorages, light- 
houses 23 

Ports, breakwaters, jetties, docks, wharves, loading and 

discharging facilities, coaling facilities 143 

(d) Statement of cities 149 

Name, population, location, description and characteris- 
tics 149 

(e) Lines of travel and communication 164 

Canals 164 

Water transportation 174 

Roads 1 79 

Railroads ^ 185 

Cables 195 

Telegraph 195 

III. Population 196 

(a) Census and distribution, race, language, religion, char- 
acter, morals, manners, mode and cost of living, habi- 
tations, health conditions, etc 196 

IV. Resources 203 

(a) Mineral resources 203 

(b) Timber and fuel resources 205 

(c) Animal resources 206 

(d) Products and manufactures 206 

(e) Revenues 208 

Taxes, exports and imports 208 

V. Miscellaneous Information 210 

VI. Appendix 219 




"Alonso de Ojeda landed on the Isthmus of Panama in 
1499. Later on the Spaniards found many warlike Indian 
tribes there. Eight principal tribes are enumerated. Those 
in Darien were specially troublesome. 

' ' Columbus visited the port of Chagres and the bay of 
Limones in 1502. Having heard of the mineral riches of 
Veraguas he made the first attempts at colonization on the 
banks of the Belen. The renowned mineral wealth of the 
Isthmus attracted many navigators, and it was given the 
name of Castillo del Oro (golden castle). 

"The warlike and intrepid natives fought heroically to 
preserve their liberty, and there are to-day over 10,000 
natives who still preserve their original wild independence. 

"In 1510 Diego de Nicuesa brought a large expedition to 
Panama and was appointed governor. He founded the city 
of Sombre de Dios, which was sacked and burned in 1595 by 
English freebooters. In 1546 Christopher Pena came with 
130 men to settle the territory, but accomplished nothing. 
In 1513 Balboa, who was in command at the Isthmus, organ- 
ized an expedition of 190 Spaniards and 1,000 Indians, wiiich 
ended in the discovery of the Pacific. 

" Owing to complaints made against Balboa, an expedition 
of 2,000 men was sent from Spain in 1514 under Pedro Arias 
Davila (called Pedrarias), who succeeded Balboa. Pedrarias 
sent people to settle the Pacific coast and founded the city of 
Ada. He had Balboa beheaded in the latter place in 1517. 

" In 1521 Pedrarias transferred the seat of government from 
Santa Maria la Antigua del Darien to the village of Panama. 


It may be said tluit the coiKiiiest ended with the transfer of 
the government to Panama, for Darien was abandoned with 
tlie conviction that it was impossible to conquer it, and the 
remainder of the territory presented no obstacles. The ports 
of Chagres and Panama, with the Cruces road, were thus 
opened to traffic between the two oceans. 

" Owing to the famed riches of the Isthmus and its excep- 
tional geographical position it was a target for the attacks of 
I)irates for about one hundred years, which greatly disturbed 
its commerce and industry. 

" The following towns were sacked or burned at different 
periods: Portobelo, Santa Maria la Antigua del Darien, Nom- 
bre de Dios. The castle of San Lorenzo was destroyed. 
Finally Panama, the wealth}^ and populous capital, was 
sacked, burned, and destroyed by the pirate, Henry Morgan. 

"In 1699 William Paterson, a Scotchman, sailed with 1,500 
men to establish a colony in Darien. He bought land of the 
Indians and settled at Ada, calling it New St. Andrew and 
the adjacent country New Caledonia. The colonists immedi- 
SLtelj began to improve the port of Ada, or Puerto Escoces, 
as it is called to-day. They opened a canal and erected a 
fort, in which tliey mounted 50 guns ; they also erected a house 
on a mountain overlooking the port, from which they com- 
manded a long view and could guard against surprise. This 
colony, being refused recognition or assistance from the Span- 
ish Government, was soon w^ithout resources, and the majority 
died of hunger. A few reenforcements subsequently arrived, 
but they were attacked by a Spanish force of 1,600 men, three 
months later, and finally defeated. Of the remnant of the 
colony but 30 souls eventually returned to Scotland alive. 

"Under Bolivar the Republic of Colombia gained its inde- 
pendence of Spain in 1819, and was officially constituted 
December 27, 1819. 

"At the time when the South Americans rose in arms against 
Spain and proclaimed their independence Panama was 
divided for administrative purposes into two provinces, 
Panama and Veraguas, each ruled by a governor. 

"While New Granada, Venezuela, and Quito were strug- 
gling for their independence, Panama, owing to its lack of 
resources and its strategic position, had to patiently await 
the result without participating. 


''The English expedition under General McGregor, which 
arrived at Portobelo in 1819, might have hastened the eman- 
cipation of the Isthmus had not McGregor remained at Porto- 
belo and allowed himself to be surprised by the Sjjaniards. 
The result was fatal to the Isthmus, as it led the Spaniards 
to double their vigilance and increase their garrison. 

"However, its hour was approaching. In 1821 part of the 
garrison (700 to 800 men) was taken by uhe governor and cap- 
tain-general of Granada to Quito, leaving four companies of 
troops in Panama, under Lieut. Col. Jose Fabriga, at the time 
governor of the province of Veraguas. 

"The Panamanians believed the hour of independence to 
have arrived. The first cry was raised in the village of Los 
Santos; then the capital followed. The movement was 
immensely popular and no bulwark could sta}^ it. On N'ovem- 
ber 28, 1821, the ayuntamiento, boldl}^ risking the conse- 
quences of such a step, convoked all the military, civil, and 
ecclesiastical bodies in a general assembly, in which it pro- 
claihied the independence of the Isthmus from the Govern- 
ment of Spain and adhered to New Granada. 

"In 1826 the Latin- American Congress was held in the city 
of Panama. It was participated in by Colombia, Central 
America, Peru, and Mexico, and a treaty of coalition, provid- 
ing for the furnishing of a certain annual military contingent 
by each country, Avas concluded, but never ratified by all the 

"In 1830 Jose Domingo Espinar, commander in chief at 
Panama, usurped authority and assumed the title of civil and 
military chief, declaring the government of the Isthmus inde- 
pendent of that of the Republic of Colombia. This condi- 
tion lasted three months, when the usurper himself decreed 
that the original regime be restored. He continued, however, 
as a dictator, but became so tyrannical that he was finally 
superseded by Col. Juan Eligio Alzuro at the instigation of 
the commanders of the garrison. Espinar was exiled to 
Guayaquil. Alzuro retained military command of the garri- 
son, and quiet was restored for a while. He, however, soon 
began to act arlntrarily, and on July 8, 1831, he called an 
assembly and proposed the independence of the Isthmus from 
the central government. The motion was unanimously de- 
feated. But the Venezuelans, expelled from Ecuador, 'who 


expected to make the Isthmus their inheritance,' incited 
Alzuro against those who opposed him, and he called another 
assembly, from which, by intimidation, he wrested a declara- 
tion that the Isthmus should be a state independent from 
the Government of Colombia. The assembly appointed him 
supreme military commander, and Gen. Jose de Fabrega 
civil chief. 

"Colonel Herrera then began to collect forces against 
Alzuro, who then also assumed the civil authority, deposing 
General Fabrega and exiling him and other prominent citi- 
zens, with admonitions never to return. They did, however, 
return, and began inciting the population in Darien to insur- 
rection against the tyrant. Finally, on August 24, a desper- 
ate struggle took place between Alzuro on one side and 
Herrera and Fabrega on the other. Alzuro was defeated 
and taken prisoner, and he and his counselors were shot. 
The executive power approved the conduct of Herrera and 
expressed words of praise to him for his services in the cam- 
paign." — Directory of Panama, 1898. 

The vast Republic split up into Venezuela, Ecuador, and 
the Republic of New Granada February 29, 1832. 

The same year a conspiracy headed by two officers again 
attempted to overthrow the constituted government. They 
failed and were executed. Comparative quiet followed until 
1840, when a revolution, with Herrera at the head, was insti- 
tuted, independence was proclaimed and for two years main- 
tained. In 1842, however, Panama again submitted and 
returned as a province of New Granada. 

An important treaty was concluded between the United 
States and New Granada December 12, 1846, guaranteeing, 
among other items, equal commercial privileges on the Isth- 
mus of Panama to citizens of both contracting countries. In 
order to secure constant enjoyment of the advantages accru- 
ing to the United States in this treaty and as compensation 
for these advantages, and in order to secure unembarrassed 
transit across the Isthmus, the United States guaranteed to 
New Granada neutrality of the strip and the rights of sov- 
ereignty and property then possessed over the Isthmus by 
that country. 

Grievances preferred by foreigners have in numerous 
instances strained the relations between the National Govern- 
ment and the powers, and the neglect of the Government to 


afford safe passage across the Isthmus finally became so 
flagrant that in 1854 a protest signed by the consuls of sev- 
eral powers, including the United States, Great Britain, and 
France, was addressed to the governor of Panama. It was 
not till after 1859, when the President of the United States 
asked Congress for power to protect Americans on the Isth- 
mus, that the more serious causes for complaint disappeared. 

Except for some minor disturbances in the provinces of 
Aguero and Veragua in 1854, comparative peace prevailed in 
the Isthmus from the revolution of 1840 to 1856. 

In 1855 Panama, under a liberal constitution, became a 
State of I^ew Granada. The executive authority was vested 
in a governor. The outlook for the future appeared hope- 
ful, but from this time forward the Isthmus became afflicted 
with constant conflict; revolution became a habit. — Authority 
consulted, Bancroft, Native Races, vol. 8. 

"The constitution of April 1, 1858, changed the Republic 
into a confederation of eight States, under the name of Con- 
federation Granadina. 

"On May 8, 1863, an improved constitution was formed, 
and the States reverted to the old name of Colombia — United 
States of Colombia." — Commercial Relations^ 1900. 

"After the great civil war of 1861, generally known as the 
Mosquera revolution, the sixth constitution of government 
was framed and adopted. It changed the name of the coun- 
try from New Grenada to the 'United States of Colombia,' 
disestablished the church, confiscated nearly all church 
property, and disfranchised the clergy, but extended the suf- 
frage to all other male persons 18 years of age and upward. 

" This constitution remained in force for about twentj^-two 
years, and during that time there were as many as eleven 
' revolutions,' or one on an average of about every two years. 

"After the hopeless failure of the armed revolt against 
the Nunez administration, in 1885, another constitution was 
framed and adopted, making the seventh in chronological 
order within a period of not quite fifty j^ears. This last 
constitution changed the name and title of the countrj^ from 
the United States of Colombia to that of 'The Republic of 
Colombia,' thereby intending to convey the idea that a con- 
solidated republic had been substituted for a confederation 
of 'sovereign states.'" — Scruggs, The Colombian and Vene- 
zuelan Republics, 1899. 


"The insurrection which began in October, 1899, was ended 
on November 22, 1902, the fleet and war stores of the insur- 
gents being restored to the Government." — Commercial Rela- 
tions ivith the United States, 1900. 

Discontent born partly of the failure of the central gov- 
ernment to pass the Hay-Herran canal treat}^ resulted in 
November, 1903, in the separation of Panama and the estab- 
lishment therein of an independent republic. — {Compiler.) 



"Panama is bounded on the north hj the Caribbean Sea, 
west by the Republic of Costa Rica, south by the Pacific 
Ocean, east by the Department of the Cauca. 

"The area of Panama is 32,380 square miles, of which only 
about one-half is inhabited. Its greatest length, from the 
Darien Range to that of La Cruz, on the side of Costa Rica, 
is about 420 miles. The widest part of the Isthmus lies be- 
tween the mouth of the Escribanos River, on the Atlantic side, 
and the point of Mariato, on the Pacific, a distance of about 
118 miles. The narrowest part lies between the Gulf of San 
Bias, on the Atlantic, and the mouth of the river Chepe, on 
the Pacific, a distance on a straight line of 31 miles." — Colom- 
h ia , B urea u of Arrie r lean Rep ublics . 


"Mountain Ranges. — Panama belongs geographically to 
Central America, and is the last of the long line of isthmian 
formations which form so many links in the chain by which 
the northern and southern continents have been connected 
since Tertiary times. At the Costa Rican frontier it trends 
round from southeast to east, and maintains this normal 
direction through a series of rythmical curves for over 400 
miles to the Atrato Valley, which, jointly with that of the 
San Juan, forms the true parting line between Central and 
South America." — Stanford's Conipendiuin of Geography, 
Central and South America, Vol. II. 

"A massive range known as the Cordillera de Baudo tra- 
verses the Isthmus through nearly its w^hole length, dwin- 
dling away in the neighborhood of Panama. This range 
approaches now the southern coast and again the northern, 
and though not a very elevated one (1,557 feet, average 
height, with peaks of from 2,296 to 2,624 feet, and passes less 



than 900 feet high) it gradually increases in both lieight and 
breadth as it approaches Veraguas; in Chiriqui it readies its 
greatest elevation and runs through the middle of the Depart- 
ment into Costa Rica." — Colomhia, Bureau of American 

"Through the Cordillera de Chiriqui the Costa Rican oro- 
graphic S3^stem passes into Panama, which it traverses in its 
entire length to the Gulf of Darien under various sectional 
names, such as the 'Cordilleras of Veragua' and 'San Bias.' 
These Cordilleras do not form a continuous mountain range, 
but rather a number of loosely connected ridges, spurs, and 
offshoots, which decrease generally in altitude in the direction 
of the east, and are here and there crossed by historical j)a«ses 
which fall below 300 feet, and are the lowest that occur any- 
where between the Atlantic and the Pacific. 

"It seems obvious that here also the two oceans formerly 
communicated through several channels, and that Panama, 
like other parts of Central America, constituted an insular 
chain, which has since been merged in continuous land partly 
by volcanic, partly by meteoric agencies. This may be even 
inferred from the geological constitution of the uplands, 
which consists in the west of comparatively recent eruptive 
rocks and elsewhere largely of granites, gneiss, dolerites, 
trachytes, and crystalline schists. 

"In the extreme west, where the Panama highlands attain 
their greatest elevation, the Central American igneous sj^s- 
tem is continued by three apparently extinct volcanoes — 
Pico Blanco, Rovalo, and Chiriqui. West of Veragua the 
system becomes fragmentary and, so to say, dislocated, cul- 
minating in Mount Capira, on Panama Bay, then falling to 
700 feet in the Ahoga-Yeguas hills, which are crossed by a 
pass only 380 feet high, followed by the still lower Culebra 
Pass (290 feet), where the Isthmus itself contracts to a little 
over 34 miles in a direct line from sea to sea. In the San 
Bias section, with a mean altitude of less than 2,000 feet, the 
highest peak scarcely exceeds 3,000 feet, and here the Isth- 
mus narrows to about 18 miles between San Bias Baj^ on the 
Atlantic and the head of the tide waters in the Rio Bayano 
on the Pacific coast. {StanforcVs Compendium of Geography, 
Central and South America.) Near the western extremity 
of the Isthmus are found peaks of some considerable height, 
such as Cerro Santiago, 6,234 feet; Yolcan de Chiriqui, 6,480 


feet; Cerro Picacho, 7,054 feet; Cerro Horqueta, 6,234 feet, 
and Pico Robaldo, 7,012 feet." — Report of the Interconti- 
nental Railwaij Commission^ Volume II, part i, 1891-1898. 

Rivers AND Lakes. — " Themountamous regions in the cen- 
tral part of the Department of Panama give rise to innumer- 
able brooks and rivers which have their source in the Cordil- 
leras and irrigate the soil in ever^^ direction. 

" The principal streams that irrigate the province of Code 
are: Rio Grande, Uvero, Hondo, Chorrera, Estancia, Anton, 
Hato, Farrallon, Chico, Majaqual, Calaboza, Mataabogodes, 
Piedras, Tejas, Lajas, el Code, etc. 

"Province of Colon : El Chagres, Indios, San Miguel, Code, 
Candelaria, Calabebora, Cuasaro, San Diego, Bananos, Chan- 
guinola, Sigsola, Tervis, etc. 

"Province of Chiriqui: El Doraces or Culebras, el Golfito, 
Coto, Pavon, Claro, San Bartolome, Chiriqui viejo, Tabasara, 
Colorado, Chico, Gualaca, Chorcha, Fonseca, Covales, David, 
Plantanal, Salado, Santiago, etc. 

"Province of Los Santos: Rio Cambuta, el Guere, Guarare 
de la Villa, Pocri, Escota, Parita, Pedasi, Caldera, i^ria, etc. 

"The province of Panama is irrigated by innumerable 
rivers, because it embraces the extensive territory of Darien, 
from whose ridges and mountains rise innumerable rivers, 
some of which, like the Tuira, the Balsas, the Sambti, and the 
Tayecua or Marea, are quite large and important. 

"Central district: El Bayano or Chepo, the Chagres, the 
Culebra, Lagastes, Boca Fuerte, Pacora, Hondo, Manzanillo, 
Gatun, Grande, Chico, Mandinga, Nombre de Dios, Aguacata, 
and Capira. 

"Territory of Darien: El Tuira, the most important of the 
rivers of the Isthmus. It has the greatest volume of water 
and is navigable by steamships to Yavisa. This river has 
many affluents, the principal ones being the Chucunaque and 
its affluent, Yavisa. This Chucunaque River has a long 
course and receives a multitude of .tributaries from the Cor- 
dillera Septentrional, the Piedras, Rio Grande, Cupe, Cuna, 
Nique, Cubunella, Paya, Puero, etc. 

"After the Tuira come: The Sambii, the Balsas, the Taye- 
cua and Masea, the Chiman (all these have a great many 
tributaries), the Lara, Trinidad, the Sabana, Santa Barbara 
(which receives the waters of the Congo), the Cupunate, 
Pimeguilla, San Antonio, etc. 


"Lastly, the pvoviiiee of Veraguas is irrigated by the fol- 
lowing rivers: San Pedro, San Pablo, Viro, Biibi, Panta- 
gorda, Rosario, Rio del Muerte, Corota, San Lorenza, Caiia- 
zas, Suai, Gate, Santa Lncia, Rio Arena, Rio Quebro, Torco, 
Negro, etc." — Directory of Pdncnmi, 189S. 

"Several of the isthmian streams descending from the cen- 
tral uplands have a somewhat lengthy course, their lower 
valleys being disposed parallel with the coast. But their 
basins are too narrow to send down any great volume except 
during the floods, when they often rise suddenly 20, 30, or 
even 40 feet above their normal level and sweep with tre- 
mendous force and velocity down to the coast. 

"Such is the regime of the Rio Chagres, which has its 
course in the center of the Isthmus, and has hitherto proved 
one of the most formidable obstacles that the constructors of 
the Panama ship canal have had to contend with. After its 
junction at Matachin with its chief tributary, the Obispo, 
descending from the Culebra uplands, it flows directly to the 
north coast near Colon (Aspinwall), where the entrance is 
obstructed by a bar with an average depth of about 10 feet. 
In ordinary years its level ranges from 14 to 40 feet Avith the 
seasons, but unusually heavy rains ma}^ at times cause an 
absolute rise of as much as 40 feet, with a discharge of from 
65,000 to 70,000 cubic feet \)qy second. The difficulty of con- 
trolling such a volume rushing at tremendous speed down 
a narrow valley seems insurmountable, and all attempts at 
regulating these sudden freshets have hitherto proved inef- 
fectual. The railway bridges of the interoceanic line run- 
ning from Aspinwall to Panama are occasionally submerged, 
while immense damage is caused to the works on the Atlantic 
section of the canal. 

"On the Pacific side the Rio Bayano presents fewer obsta- 
cles, because the western slopes are drier. But the bar at 
the entrance to its broad estuary is only 2 or 3 feet deep at 
low water, while the bay itself shoals so gently that large 
vessels have to ride at anchor 4 or 5 miles off the coast. 
Hence costly harbor works will be required at the Pacific 
entrance whenever the ship canal reaches the Gulf of 
Panama." — SianforcTs Compendkmi of Geography^ Central 
and South America. 

"Various rivers flow into either the Atlantic or the Pacific, 
some through long and narrow valleys, others by shorter 
courses. The princijjal river is the Tuira orDarien. It rises 


in the heights of Aspaves and receives the waters of a num- 
ber of tributaries, among which may be named the Nique, 
Balsas, Paya, Puero, Cano, Lomon, Chucunaque (which itself 
has several tributaries navigable for small vessels), and the 
Taj^ecua or Marca. As thus increased the Tuira flows into 
the Gulf of San Miguel on the Pacific coast. 

"The River Code is some 70 miles long, being navigable 
for small vessels for about 40 miles. It rises in the Andes, 
and receives the waters of 14 tributary rivers and a multitude 
of brooks. The Rio de los Indies and the Calabebora rise in 
the desert range which traverses the Isthmus and empty into 
the Atlantic. The first is navigable for 18 miles and the second 
for 21. The Doraces forms the boundary with Costa Rica. 
The Chiriqui and the Guazaro flow into the Atlantic. 

"Another important river is the Bayano, or Chepo, which 
rises in the Andes and flow^s west and then southwest into the 
Gulf of Panama. It is about 160 miles in length and is navi- 
gable for about 125 miles. It collects on its course the waters 
of a number of tributary streams. The River Chagres is 102 
miles long and navigable for about 60 miles. It receives the 
waters of more than 21 tributaries, and flows flrst southwest 
and then northwest, finally emptjdng into the Caribbean. 
Part of its channel has been utilized in the construction of 
the interoceanic canal. 

" The Zambii River rises in the heights of Aspave and flows 
nearly parallel with the southern coast until it empties into 
the Gulf of San Miguel. It is navigable some 93 miles. The 
Chico and the Santa Matia flow into the Parita Gulf, the San 
Pedro and San Pablo flow into the Ensenada de Montijo, the 
Tabasara, Santiago Fonseca, and Chiriqui-viejo empty into 
the gulf of Alanje, and the Golfito flows into the Golfo Dulce, 
on the boundary of Costa Rica." — Colombia — Bureau of 
American Republics, 1892. 

"The principal lagoons and marshes are: The lagoon of 
Chiriqui (improperl.y called lagoon, as it really is a gulf or 
bay, well protected by the archipelago in front of it), the 
lagoon of Tacu, and the lowlands of Catibal and Pruaya." — 
Directory of Panama, 1898. 

Climate. — "The climate varies very much, it being in 
certain regions warm but healthful, in others damp and sickly, 
and in others cold and salubrious. 

"The whole coast, from the boundary of Costa Rica to the 
Gulf of Uraba, has a hot and damp climate, in which it is dif- 


ficult for the white race to flourish by reason of swamps and 
marshes, wliose exhalations are extreme!}^ unwholesome. To 
this is added the intensity of the heat, aggravated by the 
great humidity produced by the frequent rains and by the 
aqueous vapors rising from the sea, which the pre vailing winds 
cany to the wooded plains that fringe the entire territory. 
There is a part of the Pacific coast to wliich this does not 
appl}^ for from Panama to Cape Burica there are no marshes 
or Avooded plains, but, on the contrary, cereal-bearing fields 
and rivers which water and fertilize that generally inhabited 
region. The climate is as a rule warm, but not so damp, which 
permits the inhabitants to enjoy good health. The Cordilleras 
are all cool and salubrious, but their slopes are uninhabited, 
both on the southern side, which bears the cereal grasses, and 
on the northern, which is covered with woods. 

"The coast from Panama to El Choco is unhealthy. The 
interior of the Isthmus of Darien is very sickly, and only the 
negroes and Indian half-breeds can stand its excessively rainy 
climate, hot and damp, and its atmosphere, which the marshes 
make malarious. Though about the Darien cordillera the 
temperature is milder, it can not be said that the region is 
salubrious, and it will never be until the great woods and 
groves shall have disappeared. 

"In Porto Bello the climate is unhealthy and the heat 
excessive by reason of the stagnation of the air and because 
the port is surrounded by high mountains, and noxious exhala- 
tions emanate from vegetable matters, both terrestrial and 
aquatic. The nights there are often stifling and the days 
marked by rains, with thunder and lightning, such as can not 
but terrify the unaccustomed visitor. 

"It may be said that it rains in the department of Panama 
at least nine months in the year, and that, too, in extraordi- 
nary quantities. There occur, too, brief but verj^ hard ' scuds ' 
or showers and much thunder and lightning — a sure jDroof of 
the abundance of electricity in these regions. 

"The dry months are February, March, and a part of April, 
and the hottest months are August, September, and October, 
in which the heat becomes almost unbearable. In the other 
months the breezes and the continual rain render the heat 
less intense, though, on the other hand, they make the climate 

"In the territory which formerly constituted the provinces 


of Cliiriqui and Yeraguas the heat is intense, though tem- 
pered b}" the rains from April to December. In the part of 
the Isthmns bordering upon the Cauca it rains all the year 
round at such a rate as to make the rainfall 90 cubic inches, 
while in Europe it is only 28 or 29." — Handbook of Colomhia, 
Bureau of American Repuhlics. 

"When the sun is north of the Isthmus southerly winds 
prevail, and when south, northerly winds. As is the case with 
monthly means, the changes of temperature from hour to hour 
and from day to day are subject to much less variation on 
the Isthmus than in regions more remote from the equator. 
Alhajuela fairly represents the cJimate of the interior. Here 
the temperature at sunrise in the dry season is about 72°; it 
soon rises rapidly, attaining about 87° at 1 p. m. ; after this 
it falls rapidly to about 81° at sunset, and then subsides grad- 
ually to the minimum at sunrise. During the rainy season 
the temperature at sunrise is about 74°; it rapidly reaches a 
maximum at noon, about 85°, and then falls to about 80° at 
sunset, and later to the minimum at sunrise. Thus, during 
the dry season, the daily temperature has a larger range and 
a later maximum than when rain prevails. 

"At La Boca, situated on the bay of Panama, the minimun 
temperature occurs later, or at about an hour after sunrise, 
being then about 75° in both the dvy and the rainy seasons. 
The maximum in the dry season, 8(3°, is reached at about 4 
p. m., and in the rainy season, 84°, at about half jjast 2 p. m. 
The rate of fall is more gradual than at Alhajuela, the mer- 
cury receding at sunset in the dr^^ season only to about 86° 
and in the rainy season only to about 83°. In short, the 
changes on the Pacific coast are less extreme and are later 
than in the interior, but the daily average is about the same. 

"An annual rainfall of about 140 inches may be expected 
on the Atlantic coast, about 93 inches in the interior, and 
about 60 inches near the shores of the Pacific. There is a 
well-defined dry season, beginning in December and includ- 
ing the months of January, February, March, and part of 
April, a period during which the sun is returning northward 
from his southern journey to the Tropic of Capricorn, and the 
locus of heavy rainfall has been transferred southward from 
the Isthmus. This comparative exemption from rain is char- 
acteristic of the interior and of the Pacific coast, but some- 
what less so of the region bordering the Caribbean Sea. 



"Natives of the temperate regions can not safely perform 
arduous manual labor under exposure to a ti'opical sun, and 
dependence for such work must be ];)laced upon the negroes 
of the West Indies. WJiite men can supervise, but must not 
attempt more, 

"Considering the average figures for the past four j^ears, 
with a personnel of 2,275 on the cai^jal, the percentage of dis- 
ease has been 29.65 and the mortality 2.35 per cent. These 
figures do not exceed those on large works in any country. 

" It should, however, be added that this personnel has been 
long on the Isthmus and is well acclimated. 

"Among infectious diseases on the Isthmus yellow fever is 
undoubtedly the most to be feared by unacclimated persons 
of the white race. During the two recent epidemics of j^ellow 
fever, the first from Ma^^ to December, 1899, and the second 
from March to September 10, 1900, only two cases appeared 
among the personnel of the company. The disappearance of 
yellow fever from the Isthmus from the' year 1892 to the year 
1897 would lead to the belief that the disease is in no wise 
necessarilj' endemic. The cit}^ of Colon, which up to about 
the years 1891 and 1892 was a terrain than which nothing could 
be better for yellow fevei*, reputed more dangerous that the 
city of Panama, has since that time remained fi-ee from any 
infectious disease and has escaped the yellow- fever epidemics 
of 1897, 1899, and 1900. This is due to the sanitary works 
which have been executed, the filling up of the many little 
swamps, and the cleaning of streets which before were veri- 
table sewers. By these improvements the citj^ of Colon has 
been considerably freed from the swarms of mosquitoes 
which rendered life insupportable. 

"Might not a like result be secured for the cit}^ of Panama 
(1) by a good supply of pure water; (2) by drains to conduct 
sewerage to the sea, to which its situation and conformation 
are easily adapted, and (3) bj^ watering the streets daily in 
the dry season and by cleaning them daily throughout the 
entire year. Now they are in a repulsive condition of filth. 
These three improvements, which I consider fundamental 
and essential, are now wholly neglected. 

" There should also be instituted an effective quarantine 
service for vessels arriving in the harbor, for bej^ond all 
doubt the epidemics of 1897, 1899, and 1900, and the fcAv 
cases which occurred in January, 1901, were due to importa- 


tions, in one instance from the Atlantic and in three instances 
from tlie Pacific." — The E^igineering Magazine, July, 190S. 

"In the late summer and autumn months, when the north- 
ers are replaced b}^ the southeastern trade winds, the Atlantic 
coast lands are occasionally visited by terrific cyclones, such 
as that of October, 1865, which wrought destruction among 
the shipping at Colon and was felt as far north as Cape 
Gracias a Dios. Thanks to these monsoons, the annual rain- 
fall often exceeds 120 inches on the Atlantic side, or about 
double the discharge on the Pacific coast. But malarious 
affections are everywhere prevalent and yellow fever a fre- 
quent visitor, so that the Isthmus still remains the Sepultura 
de Vivos, tlie ' living grave ' of Europeans, as it was named 
by the first Spanish settlers." — StanforcVs Comrpendium of 
Geograpliy, Central and South America, Vol. II. 

' ' In 1896 the average mortality was slightly over 64 i^er 1,000. 
Although this is considerably below the rate for 1888, when 
the canal encampments held an army of laborers equaling the 
present entire population of the city of Panama, and when, 
owing to their gregarious condition and the prevailing dis- 
sipation, epidemic diseases ran riot among them, carrying 
off scores at a time; nevertheless it is sufficiently high to 
brand the district with a distinctive and invidious character 
for insalubrity. 

"Of the deaths that have occurred, 29 per cent are due to 
lung complaints, 18 per cent to febrile attacks, 10 per cent 
to dysentery, and the balance to a variety of causes. 

" If further j)roof of the g-reat mortality that prevails at 
Panama were wanting, the fact that with a dwindling popu- 
lation upward of 18,000 corpses have been received into the 
new Roman Catholic cemetery here since its inauguration in 
1884 is of itself conclusive. 

"Leprosy is another of the baneful scourges that have made 
the Isthmus their home. It is impossible to ascertain, even 
approximately, the number of lepers that infest the depart- 
ment, but, judging from experience, were the exact number 
made known the result would be, to say the least of it, start- 
ling. There is a lazar home for these unfortunates just with- 
out the city of Panama, at Punta Mala, where a few of the 
more hideous cases are segregated from the rest of mankind, 
but it is a XJi'lmitive affair, and its unfortunate occupants 
receive neither medicine nor medical attendance. This 


disease has become so great an evil tlirouglioiit the Republic 
that the (Toveriiineut seriously eoiiteniplates converting ('()i])a 
Island, in the Pacific, into a lepei' i'efuge."—ro/o ////>»/>/, British 
Diplomatic and Consula?- Exports. Report for tlie ijear 1896 
on tJie trade of Panania. 

"Colon can at no time be considered a healthy locality nor 
in any respect a very desirable place of residence. In the 
beginning of the so-called 'invierno,' or wet season, tropical 
fevers are most frequent and fatal. What is called the 've- 
rano' (summer), or dry season, is better. It is less unhealth- 
ful, and with proper care a stranger maj^ sojourn there for a 
few weeks or months without constant dread of the cemetery. 
The streets, though very much improved of late, are often 
impassable in wet weather and never attractive when dry. 
The town is environed by stagnant ponds and lagoons, and 
the inland breeze is always laden with deadly malaria. Sick- 
ening odors assail the nostrils at every turn. The only species 
of animate nature which seems to really enjo}^ life here is the 
mosquito. Day and night he is your constant companion. 

"However, the Isthmus can not be judged b}' Colon, as it 
is quite different on the Pacific shore. The distance by rail 
is 47 miles, and the cost of transportion about $4 in American 
gold coin. The time required is about three hours. During 
the first hour's ride from Colon to Panama there is very little 
to be seen. The countiy is a mere succession of swamps and 
lagoons, where it would seem impossible for human beings to 
live. Yet even before the country was partially reclaimed 
from a wilderness state by the railwaj^ there were occasion- 
ally seen rude huts inhabited b}^ Indians, negroes, and mes- 
tizos. A little farther on cone-shaped hills with intervening 
lagoons and rapidly running streams are seen. Before the 
De Lesseps Canal Company cleared awa}' the forest and jun- 
gle and thus changed the whole aspect of the country these 
hills and little mountain slopes were covered with dense for- 
ests, which were resonant with the screams of red monkeys 
and the shrill notes of tropical birds. All along the railway, 
even in this unfavored region, one now sees little towns and 
settlements, but few or no good houses. The habitations are 
for the most part thatched-roof sheds with dirt floors, and their 
inmates can hardly be classed as belonging exclusively to 
either of the three primal races. 

"Ascending the dividing ridge between the Atlantic and 


Pacific shores a marked change for the better is perceived. 
The whole aspect of the country is different. The temx^era- 
ture, though but a few degree lower, is less oppressive. The 
air is purer, the environments are more cheerful and inviting, 
and we no longer experience that strange mental depression 
which we felt on the Colon side. As we begin the gradual 
descent of the water-parting ridge toward the Pacific coast 
the beauty of the landscape often charms us, and we are 
tempted to forget all the discomforts and annoyances of 
Colon." — The Colombian and Venezuelan Republics, Scruggs, 

"The late George S. Morrison, the civil engineer, in his 
address in December last before the American Geographical 
Society, said that the death rate on the Isthmus could be 
greatly diminished. He attributed the unhealthful climate 
to the fact that no systematic sanitary work has ever been 

"He said that before the United States could begin work 
on the completion of the canal thorough sanitary improve- 
ments should be made. With sanitary control and discipline 
exercised by the United States the greatest difficulties that 
have hitherto beset the Isthmus of Panama would be removed. 

" The conditions of the Isthmus would be no worse than 
that of other damp tropical countries. The hills along the 
line of the canal would furnish sites for gardens and resi- 
dences. He thought it was not impossible that in time this 
region, which has been regarded as one of the world's pest 
holes, might become a favorite winter resort." — New York 
Sun, November 15, 1903. 

"Fauna. — The great forests of Panama contain many wild 
animals, among which we may name the tiger (black or 
spotted), the jaguar of Darien (as voracious as that of Ven- 
pzuela), the cougar, the javali or wild boar, the chunzo, erizo 
(hedgehog), lion (red, yellow, or black), oso hormiguero (ant 
bear), tigrillo (small tiger), zorro (fox), conejo (rabbit), tapir, 
venado (deer), puerco espin (porcupine), gato (cat), mono 
(monkey), and armadillo. 

"On the Atlantic coast there are the tortoises, whose shell 
is so largely used,, and white and green turtles. On the 
Pacific, besides the pearl oysters, there are found many kinds 
of oysters and mussels, and crustaceans, such as lobsters, 
crabs, shrimps, etc. In the sea the animals to be feared are 


the tintorera (cuttlefish), tlie guaza, the manta, and the 
shark. In both oceans there abound tlie ceruzati, a fish 
weighing 55 pounds, and the mero, which weighs over 110. 
There are found also the bagre, the peztierra, the quichavo, 
the paro, and the casus, of some size, and the hurel, bar- 
bado, sabalo, hurello, corvina, cominata, and ruejo, of very 
fine flavor. 

"There are in Panama two kinds of alligators and many 
kinds of iguanas. Among serpents we find the boa, the 
berrugosa, the equis, the bejuco, the ca^adora, the boba, the 
viper (of many kinds and very poisonous), coral, and man}^ 
sorts of lizards." — Colomhia, Bureau of American BepiLblics. 

"The air also is alive with birds of gorgeous plumage — 
tanagers, toucans, humming birds, and euphonias {E aphonia 
unusica) — the songs of many being varied by the discordant 
chatter of the monkeys, springing wildly from brancli to 
branch, and by the screaming of noisy parrots. Among 
the few indigenous forms is the chiysothrix, a species of 
monkey which is confined to the Chiriqui district and will 
not live elsewhere. Most of the other mammals and other 
animals — tapirs, peccaries, pumas, jaguars, alligators, ant 
eaters, climbing porcupines, iguanas, deer, vampires — are 
common to all the surrounding lands." — StanforcVs Coitipen- 
dium of Geograpliy: Venezuela and Colomhia. 

"Flora. — To the high temperature and i^recipitation cor- 
resi)onds a tropical vegetation of amazing exuberance and 
variety, especiall}^ in the southern districts, where the Cen- 
tral and South American forms are intermingled. Even the 
rocky headlands are clothed with verdure to their summits, 
while the running waters disajjpear beneath a dense tangle 
of overhanging branches, trailing or climbin"- parasites, 
stems, snags, and matted foliage. Soon after leaving the 
Atlantic terminus travelers by the interoceanic railway find 
themselves surrounded b}^ scenes of tropical splendor such 
as can scarcely be surpassed even in the Brazilian woodlands. 
Cacao shrubs, palms, bananas, and breadfruit trees stretch 
their branches and foliage out on both sides, while the satu- 
rated soil is covered b}^ a luxuriant growth of water plants of 
the most varied colors." — StanfoixVs Compendimn of Geog- 
raphy: Central and South America. 

"There are plants having medicinal and dyeing properties, 
textile and oleaginous plants. The Province of Yeraguas 


produces caracolillo, whose rare violet-purple tint is so much 
esteemed. Splendid palms of many kinds, cacti of capricious 
forms, and varieties of orchids abound. On the terraces and 
in the gardens of Panama flourish the aristocratic kananga 
of Japan, the starr}^ jasmine, the heliotrope, the rose of 
Alexandria, and many other choice and delicate flowers." — 
Directory of Panama, 1898. 


Gulfs, bays, etc. — TheDepartment of Panamahas on the 
Atlantic side some 478 maritime miles of coast, 240 between 
the mouth of the Tarena River and Colon and 238 between 
Colon and Costa Rica. On the side of the Pacific the coast of 
Panama is 767 maritime miles in length. 

"On the Atlantic coast the principal ports or bays are 
those of Colon or Aspinwall, Almirante, Chiriqui, San Bias, 
Caledonia, and Porto Bello. Besides these there are some 25 
smaller ports. 

" On the Pacific coast the principal ports or bays are those 
of Panama, San Miguel, Montijo, and Golfito. There are 
in addition some 30 smaller ports, among which may be 
mentioned that of Boca Chica, which serves as the port for 
the town of David." — Coloynhia, Bureau of American Repub- 


"Current. — On arriving within about 30 miles of the 
southern shore of the great bight known as the Gulf of 
Columbus, the pent-up water is forced to the eastward. This 
great eddy will generally be found running between Salt 
Creek and Porto Bello at the rate of 2 to 3 knots an hour. It 
is also to be observed that the northeasterly current runs 
strong close to the entrance of Porto Bello, and in the rain}^ 
season from 1^ to even 3 knots an hour as far as Farallon 
Sucio. Between the entrance of Chiriqui Lagoon and Chagres 
there is often, however, a narrow stream setting to the west- 
ward, which extends about 3 miles from the shore. 

" TiRBi (Terraba) Point forms with Sarabeta Point the 
west entrance of Boca del Drago into Almirante Baj^ On 
the west side of Tirbi Point the shore forms a dangerous 
bight, called Tirbi Bight. Between the points, three-fourths 
mile apart, is the front of a small neck of low wooded land, 
which is skirted by a reef on which the sea breaks heavily. 


"Cauro and Lime points form the east side of entrance, 
the bar between tliem being sliallow, and there is a patch of 
If fathoms about midway between tlie points. A spit with 
less than 3 fathoms extends one-half mile across the entrance 
from Lime Point in the direction of Sarabeta Point, with 6 
to 10 fathoms close-to. 

"Boca del Drago, the western entrance into Almirante 
Bay, is onlj^ one-fourth mile wide in the narrowest i)art and 
one-third mile at the entrance, and although affording a 
depth of 9 fathoms is so tortuous and exceedingl}^ sharp in 
its turnings that it is too difficult for strangers to navigate 
without the aid of a pilot, who will come off from the settle- 
ment on seeing the usual signal. The Boca has in the channel 
a least known depth of 5 fathoms. 

" Shoal. — A shoal spot with 5 fathoms of water on it has 
been reported off the entrance to Boca del Drago, where a 
depth of 8 fathoms is indicated on Hydrographic Office chart 
No. 1384. The 5-fathom spot is on the following bearings: 

"Sarabeta Point, S. 31° 30' W. (S. 26° W. mag.), distant 
2,100 yards. 

"Lime Point, S. 1° W. (S. 5 E. mag.). 

"Approximate position: Latitude 9° 26' 36" N., longitude 
82° 20' 30" W. 

"Settlement. — The settlement extends on either side of 
Lime Point. Water is scarce, but a small supply of vegeta- 
bles may be obtained. There is excellent firewood on the 
western shore. 

"Directions. — The Boca del Drago can only be entered 
under sail, with the sea and land breezes. Swan Ca}^, 180 
feet high, and Sail Rock, 40 feet high, about 2 miles north- 
eastward of the entrance, are good marks; the latter is steep-to 
on its west side, and may be passed at a prudent distance. 

"When a mile from the entrance the opening should be 
brought to bear S. 3° W. (S. 3° E. mag.), when aremarkabl}^ 
large tree on the extremity of Lime Point will be seen. Lime 
Point tree and Tristan Point in line lead nearl}^ in mid- 
channel. Tristan Point is formed by tall table-topped trees, 
but has the appearance of a low bluff headland. 

"Proceeding in with the range given, it will be necessary to 
bear up as short round as possible when Norte Point is seen 
just open of Cauro Point, N. 73° E. (N. 67° E. mag.), keeping 
it so astern until within about 300 or 400 yards of the western 


shore, which is steep to the edge of the reef, and then haul 
up quicklj^ S. 15° W. (S. 9° W. mag.), through the inner part 
of the narrows. When Cauro Point bears N. 43° E. (N. 37° 
E. mag.), or Swan Cay is open northward of it, the bank off 
Lime Point will have been passed, and a S. 35° E. (S. 41° E. 
mag.) course will lead into the lagoon, in not less than 5 
fathoms, where anchorage ma}^ be taken up as most conven- 
ient under Columbus Island. The clump of trees on the 
mainland resembling a tower, formerly used as a leading 
mark, is not to be distinguished. 

"Tides and Current. — The tides at the Boca del Drago 
are similar to those at the Boca del Toro, but the easterl}^ 
current sets against the ledge off the north end of Columbus 
Island with such force that it is turned to the southward, and, 
overpowering the ebb, runs into the lagoon at the rate of a 
knot an hour. 

"Caution. — A vessel meeting with a calm or light airs 
between the Sail Rock and the entrance, or becoming unman- 
ageable, should anchor at once and await a commanding 
breeze. The turnings in the narrows being so sharp, the ut- 
most attention must be paid to the sails to maneuver quickly; 
and, if time permit, it will be safer to place a boat at the 
junction of the leading marks. H._ M. S. Cordelia, 1865, 
found depths of 4 fathoms in the inner part of the channel 
where 6 fathoms formerly existed. 

"Almirante Bay is about 13 miles in extent from east to 
west, but its interior is crowded by small islands, and its 
shores are so irregular that from north to south the breadth 
varies from 2 to 13 miles, and near the middle the ba}^ almost 
forms two basins. In consequence of this it may be said 
to possess harbors within harbors, in which vessels of the 
largest class may enter without much difficulty, and in many 
places lie alongside the shore in security. 

" The south side of Almirante Bay is bounded by a remark- 
able ridge of table hills, lying at the base of the great Cor- 
dillera, extending in a southeast and northwest direction 
about 15 miles. In some places it rises precipitously from the 
shore to the height of 600 or 700 feet, and only 2 miles 
inland reaches an elevation of 1,748 feet, which increases to 
2,000 feet at its northwestern extremity. Several small 
streams descend from these heights into the southwest and 
west sides of the basin, but they are only navigable for a short 


distance by small canoes. Tlie east and west sides are very 
low and swampy and densely wooded. The north side is 
bonnded by Colnmbus and Provision islands. 

"Columbus Island is 7 miles long northwest and south- 
east and about 3 miles broad. It is flat and densely wooded, 
the tops of the trees being from 200 to 400 feet above the sea. 
The east side of the island is bounded b}^ a white sandy 
beach, which forms two slight bays, and from Long Bay 
Point, which separates them, a dangerous reef extends to the 
northeast 1^ miles, breaking heavily in fresh breezes. The 
outer end of this reef lies N. 28° W. (K. 34° W. mag.), 3i 
miles from Cape Toro, and the edge of soundings is only 
three -fourths of a mile distant. 

"The northern extremity of the island is low and rockj', 
and from it a ledge of rocks extends northwestward H miles, 
but being dr}^ in places and having on it some remarkable 
islets which serve as marks, it is not so dangerous. Sail 
Rock, the outermost of the above islets, lies at the extremity 
of the ledge and is 40 feet above the sea. It is a barren 
black rock, steep-to on its west and north sides. 

"Swan Cay, S. 51° E. (S. 57° E. mag.), one-half mile from Sail 
Rock, is a narrow rock about 70 yards long rising perpen- 
dicularly to an elevation of 180 feet and crowned with brush- 
wood and a few cocoanut trees. There is no safe passage 
between these cays and North Point. 

"The western extremity of Columbus Island is low and 
sandy and about a mile distant from the adjacent point on 
the mainland. Upon it is a small settlement. The south 
shore is low and swampy and bounded by mangroves, which 
are closely skirted by a coral ledge, steep-to. 

"Settlement. — The principal settlement, Boca del Toro, 
now covers considerable territory, and the little fort is no 
longer distinguishable, the ground having been reclaimed 
and built upon for about half a cable to seaward. It is the 
seat of government on this part of the coast, and is on the 
southeast end of Columbus Island, on a narrow peninsula, 
faced on the north by a shallow bay open to the northeast. 
The population in 1894, including Old Bank settlement, 
amounted to about 5,000 inhabitants — Indians, negroes, and 
Spanish- Americans. 

' ' The trade is principally in the hands of Americans. 

"The boat landings are on the southeast side of the town. 


There ivS m wharf at the settlement, alongside of which fruit 
steamers load. About five steamers call weekly during the 
fruit season (March to August). A buoy, which is not to be 
depended upon, marks the 2-fathom patch, 4 cables S. 16° W. 
(S. 10° W. mag.) from Fort Point. The patch of 2 fathoms 
charted northeastward of it has but 1| fathoms. 

''The United States is represented by an acting consular 

"Supplies. — Fresh beef is scarce and of poor quality. 
Pork and poultry can be had in moderate quantities, but at 
high prices. 

"Preserved provisions, salt meats, and bread are imported 
by trading firms, but a large stock is not kept on hand. 

"Good fish are plentiful in the bay, and game is said to be 
abundant on tlie mainland. 

"Water. — Rain water is all that is to be had; it is con- 
tained in an iron tank (an old boiler) of a capacity of about 
6,000 gallons. 

"Coal. — There is no imported coal in the place, but coal 
of fair quality can be mined in the immediate neighborhood, 
and at very moderate cost, by using native labor. 

"Provision Island is 8 miles long east and west, with a 
ridge of irregular hills on its north side from 300 to 400 feet 
high. On the south side of this ridge the land is low, swampy, 
and skirted by numerous mangrove cays, with boat channels 
between, which extend all the way to the Crawl Cay Channel. 
The northeast side is foul, and the sea breaks on it with 
great violence to the distance of three-fourths of a mile from 
the northeast point. Cape Toro, the northwestern extremity 
of the island, is a bold scarped lieadland, easily recognized. 
There is a small black rock, steep-to, about 300 j^ards to the 
northeastward of it. A reef, steep-to, and on Avhich the sea 
generally breaks, extends west nearly one-half mile from the 

" The west end of the island terminates at a low, sandy 
point, iipon which there is a small settlement, and the land 
about it is so fertile in the growth of tropical fruits and 
vegetables that it gives the name to the island. 

"Boca del Toro, between Columbus and Provision is- 
lands, is the princix^al channel leading into the bay, and 
between Careening Cay, close off Columbus Island and Pro- 
vision Island, it is about three-fourths of a mile wide. Both 


sides, however, are skirted by a coral ledge, so that in the 
middle, in the narrowest part, it is only about one-fourth of 
a mile across. In tlie middle of the channel and across the 
Garcia bank or Middle ground, which lies just within the bay, 
a depth of not less than 5 fathoms may be cari'ied; and if 
buoj^ed, 6 fathoms could be maintained. 

"The edges of the reefs on the Provision Island side gen- 
erally show themselves, but the water is so muddy at the 
entrance that the shoals there are not visible, and as Long 
Bay Point is dangerous, strangers will require a pilot. 

"Shoal. — The existence of a small coral patch is reported 
in Boca del Toro with 3 fathoms of water over it at low water. 
The 3-fathom spot is on the following bearings: 

"Careening Point, N. 3° E. (N. 3° W. mag.), distant 800 

"Mangrove Point, S. 81° W. (S. 75° W. mag.). 

"There are depths of 4 and 4^ fathoms close around this 

"Directions. — In a case of necessity, or with but little 
local knowledge, the following directions for the Boca del 
Toro will be useful and, to vessels drawing under 17 feet, 
quite safe. 

"There is not much difficulty in recognizing the entrance. 
Cape Toro being a remarkable bold headland, but it must be 
approached from a northeast direction at a wide offing and 
with the sea breeze. An easterly set of the current should 
be allowed for. When the channel comes fairly open, bear- 
ing S. 21° W. (S. 15° W. mag.), a very remarkable large tree 
on Cristoval Island, called 'Pillar tree,' will be seen. 

"The range for approaching and entering is Pillar tree in 
range with the eastern side of Split Hill and not the center 
of the hill. A small notch will be seen just to the eastward 
of the highest part of Split Hill and on the eastern slope; this 
in range with the Pillar tree will carry nearly in the center of 
the channel. Should the range be shut in by rain or mist 
after getting on it, it is better to head for the eastern tangent 
of Careening Caj^ until Toro Point bears abeam and then to 
head the course by compass about S. 20° W. (S. 14° W. mag.) 
through the channel, turning when Mangrove Point bears 
S. 82° W. (S. 76° mag.). A S. 48° W. (S. 42° W. mag.) course 
will lead across the deepest part of the middle ground, in 4 
to 5 fathoms, when anchorage may be taken as most conven- 


lent, in 12 or 13 fathoms, mud, provided Careening Point 
does not bear eastward of N. 17° E. (N. 11° E. mag.). 

"The south end of Careening Cay is sufficiently steep for 
a vessel to heave down alongside, and between it and the 
Fort Point tiiere is a 12-foot channel, admitting coasting ves- 
sels to a more sheltered anchorage off the settlement. 

"In leaving the lagoon by the Boco del Toro it will be nec- 
essary^ to wait for the land wind. To attempt working out 
against the heavy swell which usuall}^ rolls in would be 
attended with considerable risk, notwithstanding the assist- 
ance of the outset, and if caught at the entrance by the sea 
breeze it will be more prudent for a vessel of heavy draft to 
run back. It is also necessary to be cautious not to haul out 
to the northeast before Cape Toro bears S. 74° E. (S. 80° E. 
mag. ) to avoid the reef from that point. 

" Caution. — Vessels drawing 18 feet should sound and buoy 
the channel, as Garcia Bank has changed, but there is a 
channel with a least depth of 4 fathoms. 

' ' Pilots. — Local pilots come off to ships, but are not reliable. 

"Tides and Current. — It is high water, full and change, 
in the Boca del Toro at 12h. 15m., and the rise is from 1 to 1^ 
feet. There is no flood stream, but a continual outset, de- 
pending upon the rains; in the dry season its strength is 
about a knot. The great easterly eddy sets on to the cays off 
the north side of Columbus Island at the rate of from 1 to 2 
knots, and it will be met with off the Boca del Toro and 
should be allowed for after the cays bear southward of west. 

"Shepherd Harbor. — Of the many small basins formed 
by the islands off the south shore the largest and most favor- 
ably situated lies at the southwest end of Almirante Bay and 
is named Shepherd Harbor. It is about 4 miles in length in 
a northwest and southwest direction and from 1 to If miles 
in breadth, with a depth of 12 fathoms on muddy bottom. 

"On the northeast side it is bounded by Shepherd, or Igu- 
ana, Cay, which is li miles long east and west, about one-half 
mile broad, and, in the highest part, 264 feet high. From the 
southeast end of the island a narrow coral ledge stretches off 
to the southward about a mile, upon which are several caj-s, 
the two largest named Garcia and Roldan. The channel 
between the south end of Roldan and the main is nearly- one- 
half mile wide. From Snapper Point, which forms the south 
X^oint of entrance, a ledge, nearlj^ dry and steep-to, projects 


to the northward 300 yards, but Roklau is bold to within 100 
yards; elsewhere it is quite clear, witlia depth of 15 fathoms. 

''The western cliannel, beween Sliepherd ('ay and Iguana 
Point, is about one-lialf mile wide. The cay is clear to within 
100 yards, but from Iguana Point a coral ledge shows Itself to 
the distance of 200 3^ards and is steep-to. All the dangers in 
the interior of the harbor are confined to the soutli shore and 
easityseen from aloft, and tlie coral ledges, which fringe most 
parts of tlie mangrove shores to a short distance, are so bold 
that a vessel ma}^ lie close to them. Secure anchorage may 
be taken up anywhere, as most convenient foi- watering, 
wooding, or refitting, and in many parts large vessels may lie 
alongside the sliore. Sheplierd Cay and the adjoining cays 
and a considerable portion of the mainland adjacent are now 
almost completely cleared and covered with banana and cocoa 
plantations. American steamers visit the several x^lantations 
in Almirante B'^ij and collect the jDrodnce. I'here is a landing 
wharf at the southeast corner of Roldan Ca}^ The chief sup- 
plies, however, are grown on the banks of the streams on the 
mainland, principally at Saurian and Cultivation creeks. 
Here the land is of extreme fertility and produces all the 
tropical fruits and vegetables, cotton, coffee, and sugar cane 
in the greatest i3erfection and with very little labor. 

"The dense forest aronnd the lagoon also yields abundance 
of most excellent ship timber, which is nsed on the island to 
bnild canoes and small coasting vessels. The most valuable 
timber is the eboe tree, which has a diameter of from 3 to 4 
feet and grows straight from 50 to 60 feet, with large spread- 
ing arms, having crooks of all forms and dimensions. The 
zapatilla attains about the &ame height and is from 2 to 3 
feet in diameter, but being rather brittle it requires caution 
in felling. The sum-wood, called also Spanish elm and cap- 
aro, is of the same dimensions, saws and w^orks well, and is 
well adapted for planking, as it resists the trying effects of 
this climate better than the woods generally used for this 
purpose. This tree is also found on Popa Island. Cedar 
also grows to great size and perfection, and is used for the 
construction of large canoes, dories, and pitpans. 

"Water. — Four small streams flow into the south side of 
Shepherd Harbor, but they are only navigable for small 
canoes for a short distance. The largest is Saurian Creek, 
and it is the best at which to w^ater; a vessel of large class 
may be conveniently moored within 400 yards of the mouth. 


"Directions. — Having entered Almirante Bay, if proceed- 
ing from the Boca del Toro, tlie north end of Cristoval Island 
must be approached cautiously to avoid a small coral ledge 
which lies northwestward three-fourths mile from Coco Point, 
the northern extremity of the island; the channel is about 1^ 
miles wide, with a depth of 15 fathoms. In running or work- 
ing, Juan Point must not be brought westward of S. 62° W. 
(S. 56° W. mag.) until the ledge is passed. 

"Juan Point is foul to the distance of about 400 yards, and 
from Tristan Point, on the western shore of the bay, a flat 
coral ledge, dry in places, extends 1^ miles to the eastward, 
having 3 and 4 fathoms on its outer edge, leaving a channel 
1^ miles in breadth. The Cristoval side must, therefore, be 
kept aboard; it is everywhere bold within 400 yards, and 
should it be necessary to work through this part, a little white 
lookout hut on the highest part of Shepherd Ca}^ must not be 
brought to the southward of S. 17° W. (S. 11° W. mag.) when 
standing to the westward. 

" The southeast end of the Tristan Reef lies with Mangrove 
Point well open of Juan Point. To the southward of this 
there is no danger; either channel may be taken into the 
harbor, but the southeastern will be the most convenient with 
the sea breeze, and all that is necessary is to steer in mid- 
channel or work in by the Eye, avoiding the ledges off the 
entrance points. 

" From the Boca del Drago, after passing Lime Point Bank, 
care must be taken to haul well to the eastward to avoid a 
coral bank extending from Donato Point on the western shore, 
the outer end of which bears S. 3° W. (S. 3° E. mag.) nearly 
2^ miles from Lime Point. Tristan Point must also be 
ver}^ cautiously approached, and Juan Point not brought to 
the northward of East (N. 84° E. mag.), or a depth of not 
less than 10 fathoms be maintained before Shepherd hut bears 
to the westward of S. 11° W. (S. 5° W. mag.). With the hut 
bearing S. 17° W. (S. 11° W. mag.), the end of the Ledge will 
be crossed in 5 fathoms. 

"Craw^l Cay Channel. — At the head of the bight formed 
by the islands southwest of the Zapatilla cays, between Pro- 
vision and Popa islands, is the Crawl Cay Channel, leading 
into the Almirante Lagoon. This cut has depths of not less 
than 5^ fathoms, between detached coral shoals, but it is so 
intricate and narrow, being in some parts not 100 yards wide. 


that it is quite impossible to give safe directions for its navi- 
gation. The sea, however, is so tranquil and clear tliat every 
coral head is easily seen, and the tidal stream being weak, 
the pilotage may be effected by the eye from aloft, provided 
the weather be clear and favorable and the sun not ahead. 

" The entrance is about 300 yards in widtli, but so hidden 
hj mangrove caj^s within that it would be impossible for 
strangers to make it out, and the shore is far too dangerous 
to approach without being certain of the channel. There is a 
conspicuous saddle-shaped hill G70 feet high, about S. 62° 
W. (S. 56° W. mag.) of the anchorage off the Zapatillas, the 
south hummock of which, when brought to bear about S. 55° 
W. (S. 49° W. mag.), and in line with the northwestern 
extremity of Popa island, will lead to the opening. 

"The north part of Popa, being formed of loftj^ trees grow- 
ing straight out of the water, appears from this direction bold 
and distinct, and the end of the reef which runs to the north- 
east off Cobbler Point three-fourths of a mile and forms the 
east side of the entrance is steep-to and breaks heavily. 

"The west extreme of the westernmost Zapatilla island, 
bearing N. 73° E. (N. 67° E. mag.) astern, leads up to the 

"Zapatilla Cays. — The west side of the outer part of the 
Tiger Channel is bounded by two narrow sandy islets named 
Zapatilla, which appear as one island, their general direction 
being west-northwest. They are each a little more than one- 
half mile long, and about 1,200 yards apart, a ledge almost 
dry joining them. Both are thickly wooded, affording excel- 
lent firewood, easily obtained ; the tops of the trees are about 
80 feet above the sea. 

"The surrounding reef extends east-southeast 1 mile from 
the easternmost, the extreme bearing N. 70° W. (N. 76° W. 
mag. ) 4^ miles from the Tiger breaker. Near the extremity 
the reef is one-half mile broad and generally shows itself, 
but it skirts the north and south sides of the cays at only a 
short distance. From the westernmost cay it stretches off a 
mile in a northwest direction, and at this extremity is 1 mile 
broad. Between it and the reef off Patino Point there is an 
intricate channel with many shallow heads. 

"Anchorage. — On the south side of Zapatilla Cays 
anchorage and the best shelter will be found in 10 fathoms, 
sand and mud, with the west end of the westernmost ca}^ 


bearing ]n^. 27° E. (N. 21° E. mag.) about 1 mile distant. The 
soundings are very irregular and change suddenly in some 
parts from 6 to 12 fathoms, but everywhere the bottom is 
formed of mud and sand. 

"Caution. — The edge of soundings lies about 6 miles 
northward of the Zapatilla Cays; but farther west the edge 
is close to the land. At night or in thick weather, if eastward 
of the Zapatilla Cays, a vessel might stand in until the first 
sounding is obtained, but this must be done cautiously. 

"POPA Island, which forms the northwest boundary of 
Chiriqui Lagoon, is of moderate elevation, but at the north 
end there is a very remarkable isolated hill named Mount 
Popa, with a rounded summit 1,300 feet above the sea, and 
is a serviceable object. The south side of the island is covered 
with trees, termed by the traders "sum-wood," which grow 
to large dimensions and are conveyed to Cartagena for ship- 
building. Good coal has been found on this island. There 
is a channel into the lagoon between Water Cay and Popa 
Island, carrying 6 fathoms water, but it is too narrow and 
tortuous for a stranger to navigate. Between the west side 
of Popa Island and the main there are narrow deep channels 
leading into Almirante Bay navigable for trading craft and 

" Chiriqui Lagoon. — The Chiriqui Lagoon is 32 miles long 
from east to west, 12 miles wide in the center, 5 at its east 
and 10 at its western extremity, and is capable of receiving 
in security vessels of all drafts. The entrance between Blue- 
field Point and Water Cay is 3| miles wide, and, being open 
north and south, is very easily recognized. Bluefield Point 
is a bold rounded headland. 

"There is not less than 8 fathoms in the fairway over a chan- 
nel, which is about one-half mile wide, and there is no bar. 
The southern part of the lagoon has depths of 15 to 20 fath- 
oms, decreasing toward the shore. 

"The principal trading places are the Chirica Mola and 
Frenchman Creek. 

"The north side of the interior of Chiriqui Lagoon is 
thickly fringed with detached shoals and coral heads, steep-to; 
and the main entrance itself, although from one-half to 1 
mile in breadth, is so intricate that with sailing vessels it 
should only be taken with the sea and land breezes. These 
shoals extend to a distance of 4 J miles to the southward of 
12312—03 3 


Bluefield Point, and so block up ilie east end of the lagoon 
that that part is only navigable for small handy vessels. The 
navigation is not difficult, for the water is so clear that the 
eye can guide from aloft. The mangrove creeks at this end 
are so deep that thej^ afford ready places for concealment. 

" The eastern and southern shores of the lagoon for a very 
considerable distance inland, as far as Man Creek, 17 miles 
from the east end of the lagoon, are low and swamp3% and 
there are only a very few spots in this space where a landing 
can be effected. 

"At Man Creek the base of a great spur from the Cordil- 
lera reaches the shore and only 2 miles inland has an eleva- 
tion of 2,672 feet. This lofty ridge extends about 5 miles to 
the westward, when the Chiriqui Vallej^, from 3 to 5 miles 
wide, separates it from another ridge 2,840 feet high, at the 
southwest end of the lagoon, about 2i miles inland. At the 
foot of each of these ranges there is a trading i^ost. 

"The south side of the lagoon westward of the Chirica 
Mola is free of danger and may be safely navigated by the 
lead. The west side is low, swampy, and uninhabited; it is 
skirted by a coral ledge from one-fourth to three-fourths of 
a mile distant, with 6 and 7 fathoms close-to. 

"The easternmost stream that flows into the southeast 
corner of the Chiriqui Lagoon is the Catabella Creek; it is 
very small and will onl^^ admit canoes to a short distance. 

"Toro Creek, or San Diego River, empties about o^ miles 
westward of the Catabella and communicates with the Chirica 
Mola just below its rapids. To the westward of the entrance 
there are a few fishermen's huts. 

"Water Cay is low, flat, and densely wooded, the tops of 
the trees at the east end reaching to the height of about 120 
feet above the sea. The eastern end of this cay is formed of 
low red -clay cliffs, and ygyj close off the eastern extremity 
there is a small dry rock, which, on a S. 24° E. (S. 30° E. mag.) 
bearing, seen just open of the point, is the leading mark into 
the lagoon. A reef, on which the sea breaks heavily, stretches 
off from it 300 yards and skirts the whole of the northeast 
side of the cay. At COO yards from the east point the depth 
is 5 fathoms. 

" Chirica Mola River is the only stream of any magni- 
tude in the lagoon and enters it 4 miles to the westward of 
Toro Creek. It has formed a small delta, which projects out 


to a well-defined sandy point at the entrance, S. 5'^ P]. (S. 11° 
E. mag.) 9|^ miles from Bhiefield Point. On its eastern side, 
about 1^ miles from the entrance, the shore forms a small 
cove, named Irish Bay, which has 3 to 4 fathoms, nnder the 
mangroves. Small trading coasters generally collect their 
cargoes here from the small settlements ai'ound. They lie 
completely hidden by the high trees. 

"A small low mangrove island divides the mouth of the 
Chirica Mola into two channels, the eastern of which is alone 
navigable, and on the bar during the dry season there is less 
than 2 feet of water. At this period the water is brackish 
about 2 miles above the entrance. The banks are low and 
inundated for a distance of about 3 miles, whence the}^ rise, 
and at the first rapids are 7 feet above the river. To this 
point, a distance of about 12 miles, the stream varies in 
breadth from 100 feet to nearlj^ 600 feet and in depth from 
2 to 12 feet. As already observed, at the commencement of 
the rapids a branch of the river turns to the southeast, form- 
ing the Toro Creek. Above the rapids the bed of the river 
is so full of rocks that its ascent can only be accomplished in 
small strong canoes and with very great labor. 

"Settlement. — About 10 miles above the landing at the 
rapids, on the right bank, is the most considerable village of 
the Valiente Indians, and a trading post for a long time has 
been established here. Cotton and hardware manufactures 
are brought from Jamaica and bartered for sarsaparilla, 
vanilla, cattle, and hides. The situation is said to be healthy, 
and communicates by footpaths with the Biarra and Cata- 
bella creeks. 

"The coast westward of the Chirica Mola forms a bight 
5J miles wide and about 3 feet deep. The interior consists 
of small mangrove lagoons, in which the manatee is frequently 
captured. The west end of this bight terminates at the 
entrance of the Warri or Biarri River, the eastern entrance 
point of which forms a well-defined and easily recognized 
projection. The entrance of the Biarra is about 20 feet wide, 
and on the bar there is only a foot of water in the dry season. 
Canoes ascend to the first raxDids, about 8 miles from the 
mouth, where there is a small settlement. From this river 
the mangrove shore of its delta again recedes inward and, 
curving to the northwestward, forms a large bay, about 8 
miles wide and 3 deep. About 3 miles from the Biarra, at 


the foot of. the higlilands already described, is the entrance 
of Man Creek, which, in the rainy season, is navigable for 
canoes two days' journey. 

''From tlie liead of the bay a shallow bank extends out 
nearl}^ 2 miles, and in the southwest corner, by the side of a 
rivulet at the base of the hills, tliere is a trading post. ^ 

"Thence the ^eoast i* low and swampy, forming the delta 
of the Chiriqui, which river enters the lagoon at the north- 
west point of the bay. The shore in this space is closely 
skirted by a coral ledge, steep-to. The entrance of the Chi- 
riqui River is so small that a sti'anger will have great diffi- 
cult}^ in discovering it among the narrow^ openings in the 
mangroves. In the dry season the bar is impassable, except 
by ^^luling over it, and an the heavj^ rains the numerous 
rapids are too formidable even for canoes. 

"From the Chiriqui the low swampy shore wdiich bounds 
tli6 Chiriqui Valley trends westerl}^ 5 miles to Frenchman 
Creek. About midway is Cabbage Creek, of no importance. 

"Frenchman Creek emerges at the base of the lofty ridge 
which forms the west side of the Chiriqui Yalle^^ and, 
although unnavigable, taking its rise in the adjacent moun- 
tains, it is a constant running stream of good water. The 
land to the southwestwai-d and w^estward of it is firm and 
wooded all the way to the southw^est end of the lagoon, and, 
being free of morass, the locality has been well chosen for the 
establishment of a trading post. The settlement stands on 
the west side of the entrance of the creek and around it is a 
small cultivated space, which is most fertile in the produc- 
tion of all tropical fruits and vegetables. This end of the 
lagoon also abounds in turtle in the season. 

"The position, indeed, has been found so favorably situated, 
and, comparatively, so healthy, that a bridle path has been 
opened along the west side of the Chiriqui Valley and across 
the mountains to Ciudad David, near the Pacific, by means 
of which cattle have been brought from thence to this spot 
and then conveyed in canoes to the Boca del Toro settlement 
in three days. The shore is here quite clear, and there is 
excellent anchorage in 7 fathoms about one-half mile distant. 
Numerous small streams descend from the table ridge into 
the west side of the lagoon, but the Robalo is the only one 
navigated by small canoes. 


"KOBALO Rivj]R entrance lies near the soutlnvest corner of 
the Chiriqui Lagoon, on the north side of a shallow mangrove 
bay, abont.2 miles westward of Frenchman Creek. Although 
Tery narrow, it is navigated by the sarsaparilla i)lekers in 
their little canoes, two or three days' journey, according to 
the state of the river. At the end of one day's paddling rap- 
ids are met with, and after, two days' ascent it receives a 
small stream from the southvyfird, whicli throws so large a 
bod}^ of water into the main branch as to render it almost 
impassable after very heavj^ rains. The banks are said to be 
densely covered with trees of the largest dimensions.' 

"Water. — The best place in the lagoon to water is at 
Frenchman Creek. There is also an excellent and convenient 
spring in the Utile sand}^ ba}^ on the east side of Bluelield 
Point, off which there is anchoi'age; it is, however, difficult 
to get at, and so exposed as to be dangerous with strong west- 
erly breezes and land winds. 

"Directions — Tiger Channel. — Vessels bound into the 
Chiriqui Lagoon with the sea breeze should approach by the 
Tiger Channel, which, between Tiger Breaker and the east end 
of Zapatilla Reef, is 4 miles wide. After passing southward 
of the breaker the opening into the lagoon is readily distin- 
guished, and a course should be shaped to pass from three- 
fourths to 1 mile from the east end of Water Cay. From this 
a southerly course must be taken, until the west extreme of 
the Zapatilla Cays is in line with the eastern extremity of 
Water Cay, bearing N". 24° W. (N. 30° W. mag.), taking care 
to bring these marks on before Yaliente Peak is in line with 
the south end of Toro Cays. 

"Or, when the extremities of Water and Zapatilla cays are 
in line as above, a very small rock, 3 or 4 feet above the sea, 
close off the north side of Water Cay Point, will be seen just 
open of it, and this mark will lead between the shoals. AVhen 
Yaliente Peak is over a hut at the east end of a small sandj^ 
cay, on the east side of Bluelield Point, bearing K. 33° E. (IS". 
27 E. mag), a vessel will be inside them, and may shape her 
course as convenient. It is necessary, however, to observe 
that it will not be prudent for a large vessel to goto the east- 
ward of the Chirica Mola, to the entrance of which the lead- 
ing mark, or the same course, will carry her. 

" The rock off Water Cay lies so close to the point that it 
must be used very cautiously as a mark, and onl}^ when the 


Zapatilla Cay is not seen. As the tops of the trees on the 
west end of the latter cay are only 80 feet abov^e the sea, it 
will perhaps be necessary and safer to guide the vessel from 
aloft, so as to keep that mark in sight as long as possible 
instead of trusting to the rock and bearing. 

"Great attention is requisite, for the water at entrance of 
the lagoon is so discolored that the shoals can not be seen, 
and as they are steep-to, Avi:h deep and exceedingly irregular 
soundings, the lead is almost useless, and there is only a 
space of about 400 yards to spare from the shoals on the west 
side of the channel. 

"There is another channel to the westward of the above, 
full three- fourths mile wide from east to west, but so difficult 
of access, for want of marks, that without the assistance of 
a pilot it is dangerous to navigate. However, with some local 
knowledge the following directions will assist to giude safely 
into the lagoon in a case of necessity: 

"Pass three-fourths mile eastward of Water Cay, and when 
Water Cay Point bears W. (S. 84° W. mag.) steer S. 23° W. 
(S. 17° W. mag.) until it bears north (N. G° W. mag.), thence 
a south (S. 6° E. mag.) course will lead through between the 
shoals at the distance of about 800 yards. 

"If bound to the southwest part of the lagoon, wlien Yali- 
ente Peak is in line with the north side of Bluefield Point, a 
course as most convenient may be pursued; but if bound to 
the Chirica Mola, it will be necessary to stand on until Vali- 
ente Peak bears N. 89° E. (N. 33° E. mag.) or Popa Hill K 
35 W. (N. 41° W. mag.), when a S. 51° E. (S. 57° E. mag.) 
course will lead to the entrance of that river. 

"In leaving the Chiriqui Lagoon it will be necessary to wait 
for the land wind, either in the evening — if it comes off early, 
which it very frequently does — or in the morning, soon after 
daylight. To run through the eastern channel the leading 
mark must be brought on from a position well to the south- 
ward, with Valiente Peak bearing to the northward of N. 34° 
E. (N. 28° E. mag.). Steer out, with the east end of Water 
Cay in line with the west end of the western Zapatilla Cay, 
IST. 24° W. (N. 30 W. mag.), and when Valiente Peak comes 
in line with the east side of Bluefield headland, N. 45° E. (N. 
39° E. mag.), you will be between the outer shoals, and a 
north (N. 6° W. mag.) course will lead clear out to sea. 

"To run by the western channel, the east point of Water 


Caj^ must be brought to bear north (N. 6° W. mag.) (the 
course through) before Mount Popa bears westward of N. 35° 
W. (N. 41° W. mag.). When Valiente Peak is seen over 
Little Toro Cay, N. 56° E. (N. 50° E. mag.), the shoals will 
be cleared, and a course to sea may then be shaped. 

"Should it be necessary to work up from the west end of 
the lagoon, the north shore must be approached very cau- 
tiously, for no marks can be given to avoid the shoals off: that 
side. As the south side can be navigated by the lead, it will 
be better not to stand more than about halfway across from 
that shore, until the leading marks for the channels are 
nearly on. 

"Tides. — It is high water, full and change, about noon, and 
the spring rise in the Chiriqui Lagoon is about 1 foot. In the 
interior of the lagoon there is seldom any tidal stream, but 
an outset to the northward, according to the state of the 
rivers. In the dry season, from March to June, off the Chirica 
Mola, and as far out as the entrance of the main channel, the 
strength of the ebb is from one-half to 1 knot an hour, and 
there is sometimes a weak flood stream; but outside and in 
the small channels to the westward there is a continual out- 
set, running at the rate of 1 or 2 knots, and after long heavy 
rains even as much as 3 knots, in the main channel. 

" Bluefield Point, 3 miles S. 30° W. (S. 24° W. mag.) from 
Cape Yaliente, is a bold bluff' wooded headland 180 feet high 
and easily recognized. About 200 yards to the westward of 
it there is a small black rock, 6 feet out of water, the western 
side of which, as well as the southwest extremity of the bluff, 
is steep-to. 

"From abreast the black rock a sandy beach, backed by 
mangrove swamps, trends about northeast 600 yards, and 
from the north end a dry coral ledge extends about 200 yards 
to the Little Toro Rock. 

"Toro Cays, about one-half mile westward of Little Toro 
Rock, are small islets, lying so close together that they gen- 
erally appear as one narrow island, about one-fourth mile in 
length, from north to south. They are formed of dark indu- 
rated clay, in which are embedded thin spiral layers of peb- 
bles and stones, and their summits are covered with wood. 
From a northeast and southwest direction the southernmost 
of these cays are seen to rise perpendicularly from the sea, 
and have a similar appearance to those off Cape Valiente. 


The f>Touncl is all foul inside of tlieiii, and a led^e extends 
from the northernmost north-northwestward 400 yards. 
There are 5 fathoms at 400 yards to the westward. 

"Rluefield Rock, a small perpendicular black I'ock 32 
feet high, Avith two or three remarkable trees on its summit, 
is easily recognized from the westward; it lies on the south 
edge of the Valiente bank, 800 yards to the northward of 
Creek Point, and marks the narrowest part of tlie channel 
into Bluefield Creek. 

"Bluefield Creek, on the south side of Cai)e Valiente, 
is 44 miles in extent, east and west, but the south side of the 
creek is so indented that its breadth varies considerabl3\ The 
narrowest part of the entrance is 800 yards across, but within 
it is nearly 1^ miles wide in some places and has a depth suf- 
ficient to receive vessels of large draft in perfect security. 
There is no bar. 

" The interior is exceedingly picturesque. The vessel will 
appear to lie in a deep valley, the gorgeous densel}^ wooded 
hills rising on the north side to the Valiente Peak and on the 
south side to an elevation of 180 to 500 feet. The eastern 
end is swamp}^ and bounded by low mangroves. From the 
northeast end a pathwaj^ leads across the narrow isthmus 
which connects the peninsula to the main, and at the south- 
east end a small narrow ridge of irregular hills rises to the 
height of G40feet. 

"On the south sliore of the creek, in a small plain to the 
eastward of Carolina Point, there is a small stream of excel- 
lent water, and all around the Valiente Peninsula may be 
seen the detached huts of the Valiente Indians, with small 
cultivated spots here and there. The huts of this tribe will 
be elsewhere met with, scattered around the adjacent lagoons 
and at the entrances of the small rivers on the coast, but this 
is the only spot where they appear to have formed a regular 
settlement; sometimes, however, the peninsula will be found 
entirel}^ deserted, for in their long fishing and hunting excur- 
sions they are ac(;ompanied b}^ their whole families. 

" Scrubby Point, the southwest entrance point of Bluefield 
Creek, is low and wood}^ It is the northeast extremity of a 
narrow neck of land three-fourths mile in length, which ter- 
minates to the southwest at Bluefield Point, the east point of 
entrance to the Chiriqui Lagoon. 

" Supplies. — Water may be obtained from the stream on the 


sontli shore, from which a shallow flat extends some distance, 
but b}' means of a long hose the water can be conveyed into 
the boats. Wood will be found all around, but, when time is 
not an object, it will be better to proceed to the Zapatilla Cays 
for this purpose, where tliere will be less risk to the health of 
the crew. The seine may be hauled with great success in any 
of the sand}^ bays, bat it is necessar}^ to be prepared to meet 
with small alligators and to be careful that the people are not 
electrified by the torpedo. 

"The papaw, a most excellent vegetable, grows almost wild 
all around the inlet, and the banks of several of the streams 
on the main afford an abundant supply of bananas and plan- 
tains. There is also fair hunting, but it is attended with 
some risk. The dense rank underwood is infested with snakes 
of the most venomous description, and a season seldom passes 
without a fatal accident occurring among the sarsaparilla 

"Directions. — The extremity of the Torro Ledge is about 
west of Scrubby Point, and from it to the nearest point of 
Yaliente Bank the channel into Bluefield Greek is a mile wide, 
with 11 to 18 fathoms water, except about midway, where 
there is a depth of 8 fathoms. Both the eCige of the Valiente 
Bank and the opposite bold ]3rojecting points which separate 
the bays are steep-to, but the baj^s themselves are ver}^ shal- 
low within the lines of the points. 

"Vessels having occasion to visit Bluefield Creek had bet- 
ter enter b}^ the Tiger Channel, taking care in so doing to 
give the Tiger Breaker a wide berth and not to haul in to the 
southward until the Toro Ca^' bears eastward of S. 11° E. (S. 
17° E. mag.). By waiting until the sea breeze is established 
the channel ma}^ be navigated without the necessity of mak- 
ing a board. Steer toward Bluefield Point, taking care not 
to bring it to bear westward of south (S. 6° E. mag.) to avoid 
the edge of the Valiente Bank, until the hummock on the 
south end of the Bluefield Ridge at the head of the creek is 
in line with Carolina Point, S. 7-1:° E. (S. 80° E. mag.). 

"This mark will lead nearly in mid-channel to the narrow- 
est part, w^hen the anchorage may be steered for. It will be 
better, however, not to go farther in than to bring Cape Val- 
iente in line with a remarkable bluff named Observatory 
Point, which lies a short distance to the southward of it, and 
anchor in 11 fathoms, mud, with a large hut on the summit 


bearing N. 23° W. (N. 29° W. mag.), '^^^1 lUuefield Rock 
about N. 69° W. (N. 75° W. mag.). A position to the east- 
ward of tliis loses the advantage of the breeze, by no means 
desirable in so confined a valley and in such a fearful climate 
as this. 

"A bank of 2 fathoms is chartered in mid-channel just 
within Carolina Point, with deep water on either side; and 
there are several shallow patches farther in, with deep water 
between them. 

"Tides. — It is high water, full and change, in Bluefield 
Creek at 12h. 30m., and the rise is about a foot. There is no 
perceptible stream on the flood, but the ebb will assist a ves- 
sel in working out. 

" Yaliente Peak. — From Cape Valiente, the northwestern 
extremity of the Valiente Peninsula, to Chiriqui Point a rocky 
shore extends easterly 2| miles, and bold, irregular, densely 
wooded hills rise abruptly from the shore to the height of 500 
or 600 feet. On the western shore of the peninsula and about 
a mile southeastward of Cape Valiente one of these hills ter- 
minates in Valiente Peak, 722 feet high, which, being much 
higher than any other summit on this part of the coast, is a 
most remarkable object and excellent guide from a long 

"Valiente Cays. — From Cape Valiente the western face 
of the promontory turns sharply in a southeast direction for 
If miles and is fronted by a shallow coral bank extending 1^ 
miles. The north side of this bank is bounded by a range of 
small islets and rocks, forming the southern side of the Vali- 
ente Channel, which is here 1| miles broad. Near the west- 
ern edge of the bank there is also a small low rock, named 
Middle Rock, with sunken rocks between it and the caj^s. 

"These islets and the Tiger Caj^s appear to be of precisely 
the same formation as those lying close off Escudo de Ve- 
ragua. Those off Cape Valiente are equally remarkable, 
being perforated in the same way and crowned with cocoa- 
nut trees. They appear to be wasting from the action of the 
waves, and one has been washed away. 

' ' Chiriqui Rocks. — From Chiriqui Point a coral ledge called 
Chiriqui Rocks extends about west-northwest 1^ miles, and 
terminates at 400 yards beyond Barren Rock, 10 feet high, 
within which are several rugged, rocky islets from 50 to 150 
feet above water. 


" Valiente Channel, between Barren Rock and the Tiger 
Caj^s, has depths of 6 to 9 fathoms on either side of Yaliente 

"Yaliente Breaker, N. 35° E. (N. 29° E. mag.), H miles 
from the extremit}^ of Cape Yaliente, is a very small head of 
3 fathoms, steep- to, whicli breaks heavilj^ when rollers pre- 
vail, even in the finest weather, and is extremely dangerous. 
Between it and Barren Rock there are depths of 10 and 11 
fathoms, and between it and the Tiger Cays the channel is 
three-fourths mile wide, with 6 to 9 fathoms. 

"Tiger Cays, which bound the north side of the Yaliente 
Channel, consist of three small red-clay islets about a mile in 
extent from east to west. The easternmost and largest lies 
1^ miles from Cape Yaliente, and is covered with brushwood, 
but on the others are trees with their tops about 35 feet above 
the sea. The cays are connected and surrounded at a short 
distance by a coral ledge, almost dry, preventing landing any- 
where, although it is steep-to. 

"Tiger Rock.— At 1,200 yards N. 64° W. (N. 70° W. mag.) 
of the westernmost of the Tiger Cays lies Tiger Rock, a small 
detached rock 6 feet above the sea and steep-to, having 14 
fathoms water between. 

"Tiger Breaker, 800 yards N. 71° W. (N. 77° W. mag.) 
of Tiger Rock, is a small isolated breaker, also steep-to and 
extremely dangerous, for it does not always show itself. 
From Tiger Breaker Yaliente Peak and Cape are in line 
and Toro Cay bears S. 3° W, (S. 3° E. mag.). 

"Directions. — The widest channel is westward of Yal- 
iente Breaker and between it and Tiger Cays. 

"Little Toro Rock, a sugar-loafed islet 100 feet high, in 
line with or open of Cape Yaliente, bearing S. 33° W. (S. 27° 
W. mag), leads westward of the breaker in about 9 fathoms. 
When Barren Rock bears N. 85° E. (N. 79° E. mag.) keep it 
astern on that bearing until Bluefield Point bears S. 5° E. 
(S. 11° E. mag.), then steer for it. This mark will lead west- 
ward of Yaliente Bank and up to the leading mark for Blue- 
field Creek. If proceeding into Chiriqui Lagoon, pass about 
1 mile westward of Toro Cays and follow the directions given 
for Tiger Channel. 

"The flood stream in Yaliente Channel is charted as run- 
ning one-half knot an hour to the southwest and the ebb from 
1 to 2 knots in the opposite direction, the strength of the lat- 


ter being caused by the easterl}^ ciin-ent and the outset fi'oin 
the lagoon. This increases the swell, wliieli is generally so 
heavy that it is by no means a safe cliannel to work out of nor 
for a stranger to enter, for the l)reak over the Valiente Rock 
may not occur for long intervals. 

"Yaliente Peninsula.— From Chiriqui Point the shore 
trends about southeast 5 miles to Tobobo l>luff, wliicli forms 
tlie southeastern extremity of the Valiente Peninsula, having 
on its northern side a small cove with bold irregular hills 
rising from it all along. The beach is of Avhite sand, skirted 
by small islets and detached rocks and reefs to the distance 
of 200 to 400 yards, upon which the surf breaks furiously. 
It is remarkable tliat this is tiie first clear white sandy beacli 
met with to the westward of Chagres. Elsewliere, as far to 
the westward as Grey town, the beaches are composed of dark, 
almost black, ferruginous sand, which is so impregnated with 
minute metallic particles that a magnet thrust into it will 
frequently be brouglit out completely coated with them. The 
onl}" exception is the above beach and the sea or northern 
sides of the outlying cays and islands, which are bounded by 
beaches of pure white calcareous sand. 

"It is also remarkable that the beach of the Mosquito shore 
northward of Greytown is in many parts similar, except that 
the sparkling appearance seen there is owing to small parti- 
cles of mica, which at first sight have been mistaken for gold 

"Plantain Cay, northeastward 1 mile from Tobobo Bluff, 
is a small but remarkable wooded islet, rising abruptly from 
the sea to the height of 230 feet, and between it and the bluff 
there is a similar cay, named ' Tobobo,' but on\y 150 feet 
high. Between these cays there is a narrow channel, adapted 
for coasting vessels. Plantain Cay has some small rocks, 
steep-to, close off its north side. 

"Tobobo Bank, 5^ miles eastward from Plantain Cay, is 
a small coral bank with 7 to 10 fathoms water, which tops with 
heavj^ rollers and is exceedingly alarming; and N. 51° E. 
(N. 45° E. mag.) 5t} miles of the cay there are 10 fathoms, on 
a narrow coral ledge, with 16 to 17 fathoms, which lies just 
Avithin the edge of soundings and has 30 fathoms inside it. 
Vessels should approach this neighborhood with great caution. 

"Tobobo Bight. — From Tobobo Bluff, a bold prominent 
headland 500 feet high, the shore trends to the southeastward 


and eastward to Old Bess Point and forms a deep irregular 
mangrove bight. The inner part of this bight is very shallow 
and skirted by a dangerous reef, which breaks heavily about 
a mile from the shore and is steex)-to. There are several 
small openings, however, forming boat channels into Tobobo 
Creek, in the northwest corner. 

"There are two huts on the south side of Tobobo Bluff and 
a spring of good water in a small sandy cove to the north- 
Avard of them. 

"From Old Bess Point the coast trends about southeast 3 
miles to Coco Plum Point, Avhich is about a mile to the north- 
northwest of the entrance of the Caiia and is fringed with a 
reef to a considerable distance. About midway, close to the 
shore, there is a small cluster of islets named the Tooley Cays, 
and abreast them the wooded land rises to the height of 460 

"ESCUDO DE Yeragua is an island 2^ miles long from east 
to west and about three-fourths of a mile broad, and its south- 
western extremity lies east-northeastward 10 miles from Coco 
Plum Point, the nearest part of the mainland. It is low and 
woody, and the trees grow so very regular in height that 
when first sighted it appears like a small island of tableland 
which, when approaching from the northward, will be seen 
to slope down graduall}^ to the westward. The eastern part 
of the island is formed of soft, reddish-brown, perpendicular 
cliffs from 40 to 50 feet high, in which are embedded several 
species of marine shells. 

"From the destructive action of the waves, however, the 
cliffs have been cut into and separated here and there at very 
short distances from the body of the island, forming small 
islets; some of them have been pierced through, and the 
arches, being crowned by dense foliage and trees from 70 
to 80 feet high, have a most remarkable and picturesque 
appearance when seen from a short distance. The west end 
and south side of the island are Yery low and swam^^y and 
bounded by a dark sand}^ beach, similar to that found on 
the mainland. The southwestern extremity is steep-to and 
affords the only landing place, which, however, is at most 
times difficult of access on account of the heavy surf. From 
the west end a reef extends about 200 yards, and also skirts 
the north shore at a distance of oue-fourth mile and the east 
end one-half mile outside the little clay islets; from the mid- 
dle of the south side a ledge extends about one-half mile. 


"During the rainy season sevei'al small rivulets force them- 
selves through the sand on the south side of the island, but 
the supply of good water is so scanty that the few fishermen 
who visit it in the turtle season are obliged to dig wells 

"Anchorage. — A vessel may anchor off the southwest end 
of Escudo de Veragua, but will ride extremely uneasy, and 
not at all times safe; for although the soundings show a 
sandy and gravel bottom, it is but a thin stratum over a flat 
shelf of coral, which does not afford good holding ground. 
Should it be necessary to take shelter here, the west end 
should be rounded in a depth of not less than 8 fatlioms, and 
a berth taken wherever the sea appears the most smooth, in 
about 10 or 12 fathoms, taking care, however, to leave plenty 
of room for dragging or weighing with the land breeze, which 
sometimes comes off suddenlj^ with considerable force. 

"Tides.— There is a rise of tide of from 1 to 1^ feet at the 
island of Escudo de Veragua. In the daytime, at the anchor- 
age, the current generally has a westerly set, which ceases at 

"Bank of soundings. — The regular bank which skirts the 
main forms, to tlie eastw^ard of Escudo de Veragua, a large 
tongue, extending from the island in an east and northeast 
direction about 8 miles and to the northward 5 miles, with a 
tolerabl}^ regular increase in the depth; but to the northwest- 
ward the soundings are irregular, as about 3 miles distant 
they change rapidly from 30 to 10 and 14 fathoms. They are 
also irregular to the southward, but there is no danger, and 
a vessel ma}^ work to the westward quickly, between the island 
and the main, by means of the eddj^, which generally runs in 
that direction. 

"Cana River. — The Gaiia separates the territories of 
Chiriciui and Veragua. The entrance is S. 60" W. (S. 54° W. 
mag.), 11 miles from the northw^est point of Escudo de Vera- 
gua, and readily distinguished by two huts, one on either side; 
that on the w^estern jjoint is more like a house, and, being 
generally whitewashed, is a conspicuous object. About 5 
miles from the mouth, in a southerly direction and near the 
foot of the Tiger Spur, there is a small village inhabited by 
Indians who are employed in grazing cattle, collecting sarsa- 
parilla, and washing for gold dust, w^hich is occasionally 
brought down in small quantities. Small canoes can navi- 
gate the stream thus far, but the northeast swell rolls in so 


lieavily that the jmssage of the bar is only safe in very favor- 
able weather. 

"The Coast. — P>om the Caiia a low sand}^ shore extends 
about southeast for 19 miles to Buppan Bluff. About 3 
miles westward of the bluff is the entrance of Pedro River, 
and about the same distance farther on is that of the Chiri- 
qui. Both are very small, and can onl3^be entered by canoes 
after heavy rains. 

"Eastward of the bluff' the shore forms a sandy bay 2^ 
miles long, through the middle of which a small stream clears 
an opening for its exit in heavy rains. From the bay to the 
entrance of the Passiowla a ridge of red cliffs extends to the 
eastward, skirted by a beach and crowned by a clump of 
remarkable flat-topped trees about 200 feet above the sea. 
From the Passiowla to Coaita Point the usual sandy beach is 
intersected by two low rocky shelves. About midway a 
coral ledge extends about one-foui'tli mile and is steep-to. In 
this space four small streams descend from the Catalina 
Hills, the easternmost of which is visited by sarsaparilla 
pickers in small canoes. The Passiowla is also navigable for 
small canoes for a short distance after the heavy rains, but 
at other times the mouth is blocked by a dry sand bar. 

"Buppan Bluff. — The west end of the above beach termi- 
nates at the base of a large bold promontory, formed by two 
bluff headlands close together, and a third, about 1^ miles 
Avestward of them, named Buppan Bluff. All three rise pre- 
cipitously from the beach in round cones to an elevation of 
from 700 to 800 feet only one-fourth mile inland. 

"Landing. — From Buppan Bluff a small dry ledge extends 
about 400 3'ards, under the lee of which, in moderate weather, 
there is a landing place. 

"Tiger Head.— At about 11 miles westward of Buppan Bluff 
a large spur extends in a northwest direction, which gradu- 
ally descends with a long slope into the plain; a little below 
the summit, 3,882 feet above the sea, there is a small projec- 
tion called the Tiger Head, but more like the ear of that ani- 
mal, which is most remarkable when seen from the northwest 
and northeast quarters, and being generally visible when the 
higher summits behind are clouded, it is a useful landmark. 

"King Buppans Peak.— The south side of the eastern- 
most hill descends with a slight gradual slope about 2^ miles 
to the southeast, when it rises suddenly to the summit of a 


narrow conical hill 2,840 feet liigli. It then forms, between 
the summit and a much higher ridge behind, a deep, hollow 
notch^ which is a most remarl^able feature, although backed 
by the loftiest part of the Cordillera, which reaches an eleva- 
tion of 7,140 feet at about 15 miles from the coast. 

"The name 'King Buppans Peak' has been given to this 
hill by the Mosquito Indians, who, it is said, penetrated thus 
far in one of their marauding excursions, accompanied by 
their king. From the island of Escudo de Veragua, distant 
22 miles S. 15° W. (S. 9° W. mag.), it is a most conspicuous 
object among the neighboring heights. 

"COAITA Point, which lies under rhe northeast angle of 
the Catalina Hills, is low and sandj^, and the most southern 
point on this side of the Isthmus of Panama. 

"No ANCHORAGE. — From this point to the Chagres, a dis- 
tance of 83 miles, the shore runs nearly straight, without any 
sheltered anchorage whatever; and, indeed, without safe 
landing except in native boats under favorable circum- 
stances, at spots known to the coasters and fishermen, for 
heavy surfs break continuall}^ along the whole shore. Abreast 
Coaita Point the edge of soundings is about 6 miles distant, 
and the depths will be found regularly decreasing to the 
shore, Avhich is generally bold and clear. 

"Catalina Hills. — The deep valley through which the 
rivers Candelaria and Calawawa run is about 4 miles wide, 
and is also well marked ; its western side is formed bj^ the 
Catalina Hills, a large mass of irregular rounded heights, 
rising abruptly from the shore to an elevation of 1,738 feet, 
and its eastern side by a ridge, with a gradual rise to a height 
of 2,600 feet southeastward 5 miles from the Calawawa. 

" CALAVf AWA River. — The distance between the Calaw^awa 
and Candelaria is only If miles; and between there is a small 
ridge of red cliffs. The former stream discharges through 
the breach, and the entrance is pointed out by two cocoanut 
trees on the western point and by some red cliffs topped with 
trees about three-fourths mile to the westward. 

"The Calawawa is navigable for canoes about 20 miles, and 
beyond this a footpatli or bridle road leads over the moun- 
tains to the capital of the province. The journey may be 
performed in about thirty-six hours, and the mode of con- 
veyance is on the shoulders of Indians, who accomplish it 
with great ease and rapidity, even in the midst of incessant 
torrents of rain, which prevail at almost all seasons. 


The red cliff westward of the Calawawa is skirted by a 
coral ledge, extending off about one-fourth mile. From 
thence the beach extends westerly for 2 J miles to Coaita Point. 

"A mile westward of the above-mentioned cliff the sand 
projects out a little to a point, from which a ledge extends off 
one-fourth mile, and shelters a landing place to the west- 
ward of it, near a hut on the beach. 

"Candelaria River. — On each point of the entrance 
there is a single cocoanut tree, and on the western point there 
are also two or three huts; it is also further marked by a 
house standing on a slight elevation just above the mouth 
of the river. 

"The coast. — Three-fourths of a mile to the eastward of 
Candelaria River is a bold, rocky headland, close under which 
lie two little rocky islets having foul ground one-fourth mile 
outside. The shore then extends 1^ miles to the eastward, 
presenting dark, sandy beaches, separated by small rocky 
shelves, when it terminates at the base of a range of most 
remarkable cliffs, which rise boldly from the sea to the height 
of between 100 and 200 feet and extend 2^ miles in a westerly 
direction. These cliffs appear to be composed of red indu- 
rated clsiy impregnated with minute metallic grains, which 
have become so highly polished by attrition of the water 
unceasingly trickling over them from the highlands in the 
rear that when the sun shines on them from a low altitude a 
most dazzling appearance is produced. Thej sometimes look 
like the white sails of a vessel, and the easternmost has been 
likened to the stern of a large ship. They are certainly most 
striking objects and valuable guides to the coasters. 

"From these cliffs the shore trends easterly If miles to 
Wasora River; it is sandy and intersected by two rocky 
shelves. From the entrance of the Wasora, which is vevy 
small, the coast curves slightly to the northeastward for 
about 2 miles to a bluff which lies a short distance westward 
of the Cocooyah River. The shore is a sandy beach, divided 
in the middle by a small rocky point. 

"Zapatero Point is low and sandy and breakers extend 
from it about one-half mile. At H miles beyond the point 
is a very remarkable red cliff 100 feet high. At 1^ miles to the 
eastward of the cliff the Gold River empties, and from here 
the shore trends about east-northeast for 4 miles to the west 
entrance of St. Christopher Bay, and is sandy and skirted by 
12312—03 4 


a ledge, which breaks nearly one-half mile off. About mid- 
wa}^ the beach projects a little, and near this spot tliere is a 
solitary hut. About one-half mile to the eastward of the 
Gold River the beach is broken by a small low rocky point. 

" Gold or Conception River. — Tliere is said to be a gold 
mine near the source of this river, from which it is named. 
The entrance may be distinguished by a remarkable umbrella- 
shaped tree standing on rising ground on the eastern bank, 
to the eastward of which, on a small cleared spot, there is a 
house, and below it on the beach are two cocoanut trees at 
the mouth of the river. The opening of the vallej^ is also very 

"Castle Choco is a remarkable mountain, rising almost 
perpendicularly on its northern face from the plain to an ele- 
vation of 6,342 feet; the flattened summit has the exact ap- 
pearance of a huge square castle, with a small tower at one 
angle. It is, however, so constantly enveloped in clouds as 
to be seldom visible, except at the break of day, just before 
sunset, or on a sudden cessation of lieav}^ rains, when the 
atmosphere will almost instantl}^ become most remarkably 
bright and clear; and these remarks are applicable to all the 
highlands on this coast. 

"When visible the castle is, of course, an excellent guide 
for the mouths of the small streams to the westward of the 
Coclet; it is also to be seen, under favorable circvimstances, 
from the castle of San Lorenzo, at Chagres, west, distant 67 

"From the base of Castle Choco irregular masses of wooded 
hills begin to rise, and, taking a northwest direction, reach 
an elevation of 3,100 feet only 5 miles south of the Cocooyah. 
Thence the base of the Cordillera almost bounds the shore, as 
far as its northwestern extremity, near the meridian of the 
Chiriqui River, 35 miles to the westward of Zapatero Point. 

"Cordillera of Veragua. — Between the Cocooyah and 
Belen rivers the interior is comparatively low, forming a deep 
valley for some distance to the southeastward, and the land 
declines in height toward the coast, where it is elevated about 
150 feet; but only 2 miles to the southward of the Cocooyah 
the northeastern extremity of the base of the Great Cordillera 
of Veragua rises abrupth^ 1,044 feet. The highest ridge in 
this immense mass of mountains traverses the Isthmus from 


east to west, for about 70 miles, at the distance of about 15 
miles from the coast. 

" The Saddle de Veragua, the eastern extremity of the ridge, 
rises from the low plain of Panama, south, about 20 miles 
from the entrance of the Coclet River, and, when seen from 
the northwest, forms a remarkable double peak or saddle 
3,326 feet high. 

"St. Christopher Bay. — To the westward of Pali sado Point 
the shore forms a sandy bay 2| miles wide and a mile deep, 
into which Old Veragua River empties. 

"The river has a hut on the east point of its entrance, and 
on the rising ground on the west side, in the center of a 
cleared space, having the appearance of a green plain, there 
is a conspicuous white house. 

" The coast. — FromPalisado Point, off which breakers ex- 
tend one-half mile, the shore extends easterly for 1| miles in a 
straight sandy beach, then is rocky for about one-half mile 
to the Belen River, the opening to which is so small that it is 
only recognized by the receding of the low hills which form 
its valley. About 4 miles farther on is the entrance to the 
Palmillo, which is pointed out by two huts on the eastern side, 
but is so hidden by dense foliage that it is extremely dif&cult 
to find. From this river to Rincon Point the shore trends 
about northeast for 6 miles and is a sandy beach, intersected 
by low rocky shelves; the land near the shore gradually 
declines in height. 

"Rincon Point is a bold, scarped, rocky headland, reaching 
the height of 550 feet three-fourths of a mile inland. At 3 
miles south of it the elevation is 800 feet. Abreast this head- 
land the edge of soundings is onl}^ 2^ miles distant, and the 
shore is so bold that there are 24 fathoms one-half mile off. 

"Coclet River and Mountain. — The Coclet River is 
pointed out by two huts on the west point of entrance and a 
house in the middle of a small cultivated spot on the east side. 
Behind it rises the Sierra de Coclet, which, at 4 miles to the 
southward of the river entrance, reaches an elevation of 1,432 
feet. This large mass of irregular hills is connected with the 
Sierra de Miguel de la Borda by a wooded ridge from 800 to 
900 feet high. A little to the eastward of the Coclet the base 
of the sierra rests on the shore, and continues to bound it 
until interrupted by the valley of the Plantain River. 

"From the Coclet the coast trends about east-northeast 11 


miles to the entrance of the Mangalee, and is bounded by a 
sandy beach, intersected occasionally by small patches of low 
rocks. About 5 miles from the Mangalee a slight bay is 
formed for about 2 miles, into which the Plantain River flows; 
the entrance is marked by a single hut on either side and the 
deep valley through which it runs. 

' ' Mangalee River. — From the entrance of Mangalee River, 
which is pointed out by two or three huts on the west side 
and a little low rocky point on the east side, to the village of 
Gicacal, the sandy shore, backed by low rocks, extends for 2^ 

"The whole line of shore between these points is fringed 
with coral, to a distance of from 200 j^ards to one-half mile, 
upon which the sea breaks, rendering landing extremely difli- 
cult and dangerous, except under most favorable circum- 

"All the streams from the Mangalee to the Indios are navi- 
gated by small canoes, conveying the sarsaparilla collected on 
their banks to the small trading vessels which occasionally 
call for it. 

"The Mangalee defines the northwestern boundary be- 
tween the provinces of Veragua and Panama. 

' 'Anchorage. — There is temporary anchorage all along the 
coast just described, in 6 to 8 fathoms, sand and mud, about 
2 miles from the shore, 

"PiLON DE Miguel de la Borda. — This remarkable iso- 
lated mountain, 1,669 feet high, is situated south westward 28 
miles from the mouth of the Chagres and about 14 miles 
inland. It is not, however, often visible, being generally con- 
cealed by the dense vapors which hang over the extensive 
low, flat surrounding plain ; still it may be occasionally seen 
from the Chagres anchorage. 

"Aspect. — Immediately behind the entrance of the Man- 
galee the base of Sierra de Miguel de la Borda attains, almost 
abruptly, the height of 592 feet, whence it continues to rise 
in irregular densely wooded ridges to the summit, which is 
1,552 feet above the sea and S. 18° E. (S. 23° E. mag.) 5 miles 
from the entrance of the river. The Pilon de Miguel de la 
Borda lies southward and eastward of Giscal village, but is 
not visible to the westward of it. Abreast the middle of the 
red cliffs, eastward of Gicacal, there is a conspicuous round 
hill 356 feet above the sea. Near the entrance of the Indios 


the land is about 150 feet above the sea, and to the westward 
it gradually rises. 

*'The coast from the Mangalee River extends about east- 
northeast for 14 miles to the Indios River. About 2^ miles 
to the eastward of the Mangalee River is the village of Gica- 
cal, which consists of a few straggling huts, on the left bank 
of a small stream. Half a mile to the eastward of the village 
is a remarkable ridge of low red indurated mud cliffs, which 
extend for about 3 miles; thence to the Indios cliffs the shore 
for 2 miles is a low rocky shelf, upon which will be seen a few 
huts, and then a sandy beach. About one-half of a mile to the 
westward of the river is a remarkable cavern in the cliff, and 
at the same distance to the eastward is the village of Salud. 
From the river to Lagarto village the shore is low, sandy, and 
thickly wooded behind. At 4 miles northeastward of the vil- 
lage is Diego Point. From here the land gradually ascends to 
the base of the Chagres table-land. Diego Point is formed 
by a low rocky shore, and about a mile to the westward of its 
extremity is a remarkable white cliff, with a small sandy 
beach on either side, above the western end of which there is 
a cleared space and grazing farm. Morrito Point is formed 
by a low red cliff, upon which are a few huts, and foul ground 
extends from it about 400 yards. 

" From El Morillo, a little rock about one-half of a mile east- 
ward of Morrito Point, the shore is rocky and foul to Arenas 
Point, at the entrance of the Chagres River, with Boca de la 
Furnia Point in between. 

"Chagres River. — The flat rocky promontory which 
bounds the north side of the entrance to the Chagres River 
is about 400 yards in length east and west and about 175 
yards broad. On the north, west, and south sides it rises 
almost perpendicularly from the sea to the height of 82 feet 
at the outer end and to that of 100 feet at the inner part. 
The western part is occupied by the fortifications of San 
Lorenzo, now in ruins, immediately in the rear of which there 
is a level plateau 300 feet in length, terminating at a little 
mound commanding the valleys on all sides and the only road 
to the castle. The works are everywhere in a state of decay 
and the buildings almost in ruins. 

"The south side of the entrance to the river is formed by 
a dark ssiudy beach, and from Arenas Point to the base of the 
promontory opposite the width is 225 yards. From the inner 


end of tlie promontory the shore turns suddenly to tlie south- 
ward, and abreast Arenas Point the river is only 100 yards 

"The bar has 11 feet of water in the dry season, but the 
depth changes according to the state of the river. The mouth 
of the river, outside the bar, is obstructed by the Laja Reef, a 
rocky ledge about 50 yards in diameter, which breaks in 
heavy weather and is nearly even with the surface of the 
sea. The best approach is northward of Laja Reef in depths 
of 14 feet over a breadth of about 70 yards. Within the bar 
the water deepens to 17 to 20 feet abreast the town, which is 
200 yards above the bar. Here is the anchorage for vessels 
that can enter. Small craft also lie alongside the bank of the 
river southward of the town, as the shore at the town is a 
rocky ledge. 

"Reefs nearty awash, one-fourth of a mile in extent, which 
also break during strong winds, lie from one-third to one-half 
of a mile westward of Arenas Point, with shallow w^ater ex- 
tending toward the Laja. The passage between, though with 
14 feet of water, is narrow and not recommended. 

"Chagres. — The town of Chagres is on the eastern shore, 
between the Castle and Caiio Rivulet, which enters the river 
abreast Arenas Point. The shore in front is skirted by a flat 
rocky ledge, so that small craft find it more convenient to lie 
alongside the bank just above the Cano. Since the comple- 
tion of the Panama Railroad Chagres has become simply a 
fishing hamlet and retains no evidence whatever of its former 
size and importance. A few thatched huts and a population of 
200 souls comprise the whole. 

"Anchorage. — The anchorage off Chagres is an open road- 
stead, exposed from northeast, round northerly to southwest. 
In the latter direction, however, it is somewhat protected by 
the distant land and bank of soundings; but in strong winds 
from between Avest and northeast remaining here is attended 
with risk, and it will be better when the weather threatens 
from these quarters to put to sea or proceed to either Colon 
or Porto Bello. A good berth will be found with the castle of 
San Lorenzo bearing S. 56° E. (S. 61° E. mag.), and the rock 
of Mogote de Brujas just open of the bluff N. 45° E. (N. 40° E. 
mag.) in 10 fathoms, mud, about 1^ miles from the shore, but 
a position farther in may be taken if necessary. 


*' Current. — The current usually sets northeastward with 
a velocit}^ of about 1 knot an hour. 

"General Directions — Approaching Colon and 
Chagres. — Approaching from the northeast in the season of 
the breezes, from November to May, the first land seen will 
be most probably the lofty flat mountain ridge of Llorona, 
overlooking the harbor of Portobelo from the southward, at 
the heigh t^of 3,000 feet. The shore is very low to the west- 
ward of Portobelo until it reaches the little flat peninsula of 
Chagres, and it is of the same character to the westward of 
that river for a distance of about 25 miles; therefore the 
locality is well marked by the peninsula and easily made out. 
The interior is so generally shrouded by the rains and deadly 
vapors arising from the swamps that the inland chain of the 
Calderos Altos is seldom visible. The Sierra de Llorona is 
also frequently obscured, but the irregular hills which inclose 
Portobelo are generally unclouded, and, being from 600 to 
1,300 feet high, are sufficiently remarkable to be distin- 
guished from the much lower table-land of the Chagres 

"As the land back of Manzanillo is high and can be seen 
from 40 to 60 miles off, according to the state of the atmos- 
phere, it forms a splendid landmark, and no allowance for 
the easterly set is made by most of the captains of mail 
steamers; as, should the current happen to be slight or no cur- 
rent at all be encountered, as sometimes happens, and allow- 
ance were made for the easterly current, a vessel would make 
the low land to the westward of Colon, where it is difficult to 
recognize. By making no allowance, a vessel is sure to make 
the high land of Manzanillo, or that between Manzanillo and 

"The islands off Manzanillo Point are nearly all cov^ered 
with trees and can not be easily distinguished until after a 
vessel is within a fcAv miles of the coast; but the large bare 
rock, Farallon Sucio, the largest islet of the group of this 
name, is a splendid landmark from all directions and can 
readily be distinguished, since it is comparatively bare of 
vegetation. It is not unlike in appearance to Green Island, 
off Portobelo; but the latter, being covered with trees, can 
not be distinguished from the mainland at a distance, and, 
besides, it is much smaller and not so far offshore as Farallon 


"Captain Lima, of the Pacific Mail steamship iVew^por^, 
states that in 90 voyages from New York to Colon he has 
always made Sucio, off Manzanillo Point, bearing S. 16° W. 
(S. 11° W. mag.) to S. 19° W. (S. 14° W. mag.), even in 
the rainy season, when no observation could be obtained. 
His invariable rule is to change his course, so as to allow 
for the easterly set near this coast, as soon as he sights 
logs, trees, and driftwood.. At his speed of 12 knots he 
allows one-half to three-fourths of a point, according to the 
quantity of driftwood encountered. If the quantity of drift- 
wood is very great and the discoloration of the water very 
marked, he sometimes allows as much as 1| points. If he 
encounters no drift he makes no allowance and assumes that 
there is no current. 

"Off Manzanillo Point numerous tide rips have been 
observed and the current found to be 1^ knots per hour set- 
ting eastward. A current close in to the coast, as strong as 
2^ knots per hour, has often been found. 

"In the other part of the year, when calms and variable 
winds prevail and the easterly current is most powerful, it 
will be better to keep an offing from 30 to 40 miles and to 
make the coast even to the westward of Chagres. By doing 
this a vessel will not only avoid the strength of the current, 
but in a great measure escape the heavy rains and violent 
squalls from the shore. 

"In this case the locality of the river is pointed out by a 
remarkable piece of fiat wooded tableland, about 3 miles in 
diameter, which lies not far inland on the west bank of the 
river. Its north side rises rather abruptly to a height of 800 
feet, and the elevation of its summit does not alter more than 
about 30 feet in its whole extent. There is nothing like it in 
the neighborhood. The land behind Chagres being higher 
than at the entrance, the castle is not seen from the west- 
ward until within a short distance. 

"In leaving Chagres or Colon and bound to windward it 
will be, of course, advantageous to work or run alongshore in 
the influence of the great eddy stream, which generally 
reaches as far up as Cartagena. In the season of the vari- 
ables and hazy weather, however, great care is requisite, par- 
ticularly at night, for the stream runs close to the islets of 
Portobelo, and both hand and deep-sea leads should be well 
attended. It is also necessary to warn the navigator to be 


well prepared to meet the violent gusts from the high lands 
at this period and to anchor should it fall calm. 

"Coast. — From the bluif at the entrance of the Chagres 
River to Brujas Point the shore extends nearly straight 
north-northeast 3 miles, and is rocky and steep-to. About 
midway, however, there is a small rocky cove, into which a 
rivulet falls over the cliff from a height of about 30 feet. 
The water is excellent, but the heavy surf prevents landing 
anywhere near it. 

"On the north side of the bluff of Chagres there is also a 
small sandy cove named 'Laja,' about 200 yards wide and 
having a depth of 15 feet close to the beach, into which a 
little stream flows at the southeast corner, by the side of the 
precipice. The north side of this cove is bounded by a bold 
irregular bluff headland, rising to the heigljt of 120 feet, and, 
being higher than the bluff, hides the castle of San Lorenzo 
from the northward until the latter is brought to bear S. 17° 
E. (S. 22° E. mag.). 

"Brujas Point is a bold, rocky, wooded headland, from 
whence rises the highest part of the peninsula. At the foot of 
the cliff, and only a few yards distant, is a small, isolated 
rock, with perpendicular sides, crowned with bushes, called 
the Mogote de Brujas, which, when seen open of the bluff, is 
remarkable. The rock is connected to the bluff by a flat 
ledge, dry at low water, extending outside it about 200 yards; 
it is steep-to. There are 6 fathoms 400 yards from the rock. 

"From Brujas Point to Toro Point, the west entrance point 
of Limon Bay, the coast trends about east-northeast 2 miles. 
The shore in this space forms a low shelf of rock, intersected 
near the middle by a small sandy bay, and is skirted at a 
short distance by a ledge nearly dry at low water. 

"Toro Point, the highest point of the peninsula between 
Chagres Bay and Colon Bay, is about 2| miles broad and 400 
feet high. The summit is thickly covered with wood, and is 
consequently totally different in appearance from the low 
mangrove coast to the eastward, and this serves to point out the 
locality from a wide offing. From Toro Point a shallow coral 
ledge projects north-northeastward three-fourths mile, and is 
generally marked by heavy breakers. It should be given a 
wide berth. The ledge also extends one-half mile east-north- 
eastward from the point. 

"Light— Toro Point Light.— On Toro Point, from an iron 


tower painted red and white, on stone base, is shown a white 
light, wliich shows a flash of five seeonds every thirty seconds. 
The light is elevated 108 feet and is visible 16 miles. The 
glare of the light has been seen 21 miles. When close to the 
light, the eclipses are not total. 

"Colon, Limon or Navy Bay. — Toro Point is 2^ miles 
N. 79° W. (N. 84° W. mag.) of the Colon light-house, and 
between them is the entrance of Colon Bay. This bay is 3^ 
miles deep from north to south and about 3 miles wide at the 
head. The depths at the entrance are 5i and 6^ fathoms, 
whence they decrease to 4| fathoms in the middle and 3 
fathoms at a mile from the head of the bay, and within this 
distance they shoal gradually to the beach to the southward. 
It would appear that the depths in this bay are continually 

"There are from 26 to 28 feet alongside of the wharves. 

"In the season of the north winds, the bay being completely 
exposed in this direction, a heavy swell rolls in. 

"Limon Point, on the west side of the inner part of the 
bay, stretches a little to the eastward, and affords shelter 
under its south side in Limon Harbor for small vessels in 2^ 
fathoms of water. 

"Manzanillo Island, which is about a mile long north 
and south and three-fourths mile broad, is very low, and 
for the most part covered by mangrove brushes. It is sepa- 
rated from the main by the Boca Chica, a narrow boat chan- 
nel leading into the harbor. Its eastern portion is known 
as the Boca Grande. A coral reef skirts the north and north- 
west ends of the island to the distance of 200 yards. Reefs 
extend also off the entrance points to the Boca Chica, from 200 
to 400 yards. A bridge of the Panama Railroad Company 
connects the island to the main. 

"Light— Colon Light. — On Manzanillo Point, the north- 
western extremity of Manzanillo Island, a fixed white light 
is exhibited on the top of an open framework at an elevation 
of 60 feet, and should be visible in favorable weather at a 
distance of 10 miles. It is often difficult to distinguish this 
light from the ordinary white light carried by steamers. 

"Buoys. — A buoy has recently been moored by the Panama 
Railroad Company in 5f fathoms. Colon light-house bearing 
N. 60° W. (N. 65° W. mag.), distant one-sixth mile, and 
Toro light-house bearing N. 88° W. (S. 87° W. mag.), distant 


2| miles. Vessels should not pass between this buoy and the 
reef. Several buoys are also placed off the wharves for the 
convenience of wharfing or mooring. These, together with the 
Panama Canal buoys, are the only buoys in the harbor. 

' ' Directions. — There are no known dangers in the approach 
to Colon Bay other than the reef extending from Toro Point. 
The chart shows a 4|-fathom spot, position doubtful, about 
three-fourths mile N. 28° E. {N. 23° E. mag.) of Manzanillo 
Point light. 

"Anchorage. — The best anchorage in ordinary weather is 
abreast the Pacific Mail Company's dock, about 600 yards off, 
but in bad weather it is better to anchor on the opposite 
side to avoid the heavy sea that rolls in around Toro Point. 
The holding ground is good, but there are many anchors and 
cables strewn about the bottom. 

"Tides. — There is a rise of tide about 18 inches to 2 feet in 
Limon Bay, according to the winds, but the time is uncertain. 

"Northers. — These winds occur in November, December, 
and Januar}^ They are seldom violent, but a heavy sea 
rolls in. 

"At Colon a norther is not necessarily a gale of wind; in 
fact, the wind frequently does not blow home, and is at times 
quite light, but very heavy ground swell heaves into the 
bay. When the wind does blow home, as happened during 
the norther of December 19-21, 1890, no vessel can remain at 
anchor with safety. There is no way of predicting these dan- 
gerous northers. The barometer gives no indication. The 
' fitful showers of rain in large drops ' may or may not be an 
indication. The gradually increasing swell, supposed to be a 
forerunner of a norther, frequently proves to mean nothing. 

"The norther of December 19-21, 1890, was preceded on 
the 18th by a heavy swell and threatening weather, but to- 
ward evening the swell decreased, the weather cleared, and 
it looked like a fine night. Later in the night the swell com- 
menced to heave in with greater force, so that steamers were 
compelled to leave their wharves. It was not till after day- 
light on the 19th that the full force of the norther began to 
be felt, and in a very short time it became so rough that all 
steamers put to sea. The Pacific Mail steamer Neivpori cut 
her lines and steamed across the bay to the anchorage under 
the lee of Toro Point, but was soon compelled to abandon 
this anchorage and put to sea. One steamer, lying in the 


harbor with two anchors down, dragged nearly 1 mile before 
she could get sufficient steam to be able to slip and go to sea. 

*' During the season of northers steamers should keep steam 
up constantly and be ready to move at a moment's notice. 
This is the custom of steamers of all nations which touch at 
this port, regardless of the time they may remain. However 
long the weather may have been threatening, when the norther 
does break it comes suddenly and leaves no time for ijrepa- 
rations. If compelled to get under way the surest way is to 
slip the chain and steam out to sea. It would be almost im- 
possible to get up anchor without damage to the ship at such 
times, and there is always a risk of hooking one of the old 
anchors and chains with which the bottom of the harbor is 

"Colon (Aspinwall), on the west side of Manzanillo 
Island, is connected with Panama, 47| miles distant, by rail. 
It is almost entirely a port for a few lines of regular steamers 
running on through arrangements with the Panama Railroad 
Company, carrying cargoes destined principally for transit 
to and from the Pacific. The town stands on a low island 
which was originally covered with morass and jungle; there 
is no drainage possible of any value, and the malarial ex- 
halations of the surrounding sw^amps, coupled with the 
emanations of the town, ]3roduce a condition of things most 
undesirable. There was a floating population of about 3,000 
in 1901, composed principally of employees of the Panama 
Railroad Company, whose headquarters are at Colon. On 
account of better sanitary conditions the health of Colon is 
said to be somewhat improved of late. 

"The United States is represented by a consul and vice- 
consul. The port is free. 

" Colon APPROACH — Shoal northward of ManZx\nillo 
Point. — Lieut. Commander W. R. Rush, of the U. S. S. Mari- 
etta, reports under date of March 11, 1902, having located a 
dangerous shoal about a mile northward from Manzanillo 
Point, east side of entrance to Colon Harbor. 

"The Marietta anchored on the shoal in 4| fathoms and 
used two boats in sounding out the hummock in radial lines 
from the bow of the ship, crossing with parallels. 

"The least water found w^as 23 feet, in one spot. From 
this depth of 23 feet the water rapidly deepened on all sides 
to 7 fathoms. 


"The 23-foot spot is on the following bearings: Manzanillo 
Point S. 10° E. true (S. by E. i E. mag.) Toro Point light- 
house S. 77° W. true (WSW. i W. mag.). (Variation 4° E. in 

''Lieut. Commander W. V. Bronaugh, of the U. S. F. S. 
Kearsarge, reports under date of March 11, 1902, that the 
4i-fathom shoal shown on Hydrographic Office chart No. 
1008, about two-thirds of a mile N". 15° E. true (N. by E. mag. ) 
from Manzauillo Point light-house and marked 'P. D.,' does 
not exist in its assigned position. Soundings taken March 11 
over the assigned position of the shoal showed a least depth 
of 35 feet in the vicinity. 

"Colombia — Colon — Buoy off Manzanillo Point. — 
Lieut. Walter McLean, of the U. S. S. 3£achias, reports under 
date of May 15, 1902, that there is but one buoy off Manza- 
nillo Point, entrance to Colon Harbor. This buoy is a large 
can buoy with spindle and vane painted a drab color. It is 
on the following bearings: Toro Point light-house N. 78° W. 
true (W. I N". mag.). Statue on Christobal Colon Point S. 
15° 30' E. true (S. by E. | E. mag.). Manzanillo Point light- 
house ISJ". 85° E.true (E. f N". mag.). 

" Colon — Panama Canal entrance — Soundings — 
Buoy. — Lieut. Commander A. E. Culver, U. S. IS^avy, com- 
manding the U. S. S. Bancroft, reports under date of March 8, 
1903, that he took soundings at the entrance to the Panama 
Canal to ascertain if it were practicable to take the Bancroft 
into the entrance of the canal during the season of northers. 
He found the soundings just about 1 fathom less than cor- 
responding soundings shown on Hydrographic Office chart 
No. 1008. 

' ' Of the buoys shown on this chart marking the entrance to 
the canal only one now remains, viz, the first black buoy 
bearing S. 57° E. true (SE. by E. i E. mag.) from the statue on 
De Lesseps Point. 

"Supplies. — Fresh meats, vegetables, and fruit are scarce 
and of poor quality. Preserved provisions can be had in lim- 
ited quantities. 

"Water can be obtained from the Panama Railroad Com- 
pany at 1| cents gold per gallon, delivered in tanks on the 
wharf; it is taken from the river and must be thoroughly fil- 
tered before being used. 

"Coal. — American and English coal can be had from the 


railroad company alongside the wharf. Tlie price is high. 
Coal may also sometimes be obtained from a vessel in the 
harbor at a much less cost. 

"Charges. — Vessels entering the harbor are charged light 
fees, 5 cents per ton for first 100 tons, 12| cents for every 
additional ton, and in coming to wharf, wharfage in propor- 
tion to tonnage, as per printed rates of the Panama Railroad 
Company. Tonnage dues, 11 per ton. Ships landing car- 
goes at Colon for the Isthmus of Panama must present to the 
inspector of th(i port a general manifest of all cargoes to be 
landed, also a copy of every invoice with the certificate of 
the Colombian consul at the port of shipment. This does not 
apply to cargoes in transit. 

"Pilotage. — Not compulsory, from 115 to $30 (all charges 
payable in Colombian currency). 

Repairs. — The railroad company's machine shops oifer 
facilities for repairs. 

"Communication. — There is regular steam communication 
with various ports in the United States and Europe, as well 
as with Central and South American ports. Vessels of the 
Pacific Mail Company ply between Aspinwall^ and New York 
three times a month each wa}^ There is telegraphic commu- 
nication with the United States via Jamaica, and also via 
Panama and Vera Cruz. 

"Wharfage. — The wharfage is ample, and large steamers 
find sufficient water (26 to 28 feet) to go alongside the wharves 
to embark and discharge. There is a boat landing at the 
northern wharf only. 

' ' Climate. — The Panama Canal district is one of the hottest, 
wettest, and most feverish regions in existence. Intermittent 
and malignant fevers are prevalent, and there is an epidemic 
of yellow fever at times. The death rate under normal con- 
ditions is large. 

"Rainy Season. — The rainy season is from the end of 
April to the end of December, and almost incessant from 
June to the latter month. In 1889 the rainfall amounted to 
119 inches, the greater portion of which fell during a period 
of four months. 

"Panama Canal. — The proposed enlarged port of Colon, 
northern entrance to the intended Panama Canal, was begun 
on the south shore of the Boca Chica, and the northern point 
of entrance to Boca Chica, named Terre-plein, was reclaimed 


for the purpose of erecting workshops and stores and to cover 
the entrance of the intended canal. The canal, 46 miles in 
length, was begun in sections in 1882 and continued for several 
years. In March, 1889, the original Panama Canal Company 
was forced to go into liquidation for lack of funds and to sus- 
pend payment and all operations on the canal. In 1894 a new 
company was formed, which obtained a concession for ten 
years, extended in 1900 for six years, so as to terminate in 
1910. Bj^ that time, according to the annual report of 1899, 
the canal could be completed at a cost of about 1100,000,000. 

"Manzanillo Bay. — Between Manzanillo Island and the 
main a small harbor is formed, which has a depth of from 4 
to 2 fathoms. At the entrance, which is three-fourths mile 
Avide, there is an anchorage in 5 fathoms, sand and clay, about 
one-fourth mile from the eastern shore, with the west end of 
Margarita Cay just open to the westward of Coco Solo Point, 
bearing N. 6° W. (N. 11° W. mag.). 

"The coast. — Longarremos Point is formed of low man- 
groves and bordered with reefs to a distance of somewhat 
more than 200 yards, having 11 fathoms of water close-to. 
About 5 miles east-northeast of the point are the IsTaranjos 
Cays, covered with trees and surrounded by reefs. To the 
westward of them is anchorage in 4 to 7 fathoms, mud. 

"Between the point and cays the mangrove shore is very 
irregular, and forms two bights or creeks, named ' Minas; ' the 
eastern extends inward to the south-southeast about 3 miles, 
but varies in breadth; the western runs into the southward 
about a mile, and is much narrower than the other, and the 
shore of both are fringed with coral. 

' ' These cays are near the enti^ance to the Grande River, 
and from here the coast trends about northeast by east 5 
miles to Gorda Point, the land gradually diminishing in 
height from the point to the river, and westward of the river 
is very low and bounded by mangroves. From the point the 
coast trends to tlie northeast to Buenaventura Cove about 
one-half mile to the southward of Cocal Point. The cove is 
so obstructed b}^ reefs as to be of little use. 

" PORTOBELO (Porto Bello) is one of the best harbors west 
of Cartasfena. The port being, however, inclosed to the 
north and south by hills ranging from 600 to 1,300 feet high, 
shutting out the regular breezes, and bounded on the east by 
dense swamps, the position is exceedingly unhealthj^, and the 


port is now of little commercial importance. The forts and 
government buildings have fallen into decay. The popula- 
tion in 1882 numbered about 500. 

" The north side of the port is formed by a narrow irregular 
island, nearly H miles in length from east to west, of mod- 
erate elevation, and steep-to. The south shore is bounded 
b}^ the base of the mountains, which rise, not far inland, to a 
height of 1,300 feet, and are seldom unclouded. This side is 
foul, being skirted by a coral reef to the distance of 200 to 
400 yards, with irregular soundings some distance outside; 
the depth of the water in the harbor is reported to be 
decreasing considerably. 

"The village of Portobelo and the ruins of the Castle of St. 
Jeronimo are situated on the beach, in the southeast corner 
of Portobelo. There is a sand bank of 6 feet water extending 
in a northerly and westerly direction from the castle. On the 
north shore, opposite the town, are the ruins of San Fernando 
Castle, hidden by bushes. 

" Off Cocal Point, the southwest point of the port, are three 
small islets, the outermost and largest named 'San Buena- 
ventura,' lying 600 yards southwestward of the point. Foul 
ground extends about 600 j^ards to the westward and north- 
ward of these islets; and at this distance, with the northwest 
point of the outer islet bearing south (S. 5° E. mag.), and 
Cocal Point S. 55° E. (S. 60° E. mag.), is the Farnesio Shoal, 
of 4 fathoms, within which there is no safe passage. 

"At the head of the port a sand bank stretches off about 
500 yards from the mangroves, leaving a channel on the 
north side into the careening cove, which has depths of 3 or 
4 fathoms. 

" Between Portobelo Point and San Buenaventura Islet the 
width of the entrance is 1^ miles; but a short distance within 
this, between Iron Castle Point and the south shore, it is 
about one-half mile wide; this breadth is carried up for 
about a mile, to the head of the harbor, and the depth gradu- 
ally decreases from 17 to 7 fathoms, close up to the edge of 
the sand bank. 

Green Islet. — At 300 yards southwestward of Portobelo 
Point is Green Islet, little more than 100 yards in extent from 
east to west, and having a break in the middle which appears 
at a certain distance to divide it into two parts. It is clear all 


around, but the passage between it and the point is not safe 
for large vessels. 

Salmedina Bank. — At one-fourth mile west of Green Islet 
is the Salmedina Bank, on which the sea breaks in two dis- 
tinct patches. It is composed of rock, about 100 yards in 
extent, drj^ at low water, with G fathoms close around; in the 
channel between it and the islet there are 16 to 21 fathoms, 
clay. The bank has been reported as lying N. 79° W. (N. 
84"" W. mag.), three-fourths mile from the position assigned. 

"Directions for Portobelo. — The wind generally blows 
out of Portobelo, or is light and baffling, according to the 
seasons; a vessel will therefore most jjrobably have to work 
or tow in. In approaching from the northward it is advisable 
to leave the Duarte Islets about one-half mile to the east- 
ward, thence avoiding the position of the rock charted off 
Mantilla Point, steer to pass about 200 yards, or with a 
steady breeze even less, from Green Islet, to avoid the 

"Having i:)assed the islet, the vessel may keep close to the 
wind, with the north shore aboard, and in the season of the 
breezes she will fetch into the middle of the harbor. After 
passing Iron Castle Point, in working up, when standing to 
the southward, no part of the town must be shut in with the 
land to the westward, to avoid the ledge off the south shore. 
An anchorage may be taken up as most convenient, for with 
the excei3tion of the above ledge, there is no known danger. 

" When approaching from the westward it is recommended 
to keep the shore about 3 miles distant; and in the night the 
soundings should not be neglected, as between Chagres and 
this X->ort they extend from 8 to 10 miles. From this direction 
the entrance is made known by two remarkable trees on the 
top of the hill on the south side and a signal post upon a hill 
on the north side of the harbor; the continued existence of 
either, however, is very doubtful, but from this quarter the 
opening itself is sufficiently remarkable. In standing toward 
the San Buenventura Islands Green Island must not be opened 
to the westward of Portobelo Point or brought to bear to the 
northward of N. 28° E. (N. 23° E. mag. ), and in standing toward 
the Farnesio Shoal from the northw^ard the northernmost 
extremity of the lines of St. .Jeronimo castle must be kept 
well open of the land. 

12312—03 5 


" From May to November light breezes from the southwest 
and west Avitli heavy rain prevail in the harbor, but toward 
morning there is a light air from the nortlieast; tlierefore, in 
leaving, vessels should be prepared to get under way at daj^- 
break, with boats ahead to tow. 

" It is also to be observed that the northeasterly current 
runs strong close to the entrance of Portobelo, and in the 
rainy season at least 1 J knots an hour as far as Farallon Sucio. 
Sailing vessels, therefore, should make the port from the west- 
ward, more partieularl}^ during the months of August to 

"Portobelo (Porto Bello) Point, the northwest point 
of the entrance of Portobelo, bears S. 20° W. (S. 15° W. mag.) 
2^ miles from the northernmost i)art of the Duarte Islets. 
The coast is high and scarped, and close westward of Mantilla 
Harbor is a small harbor called Leon, of not much importance, 
the entrance being almost blocked up by reefs and a small 
island at the mouth. 

"Rock. — Midwaj^ between the Duarte Islands and Porto- 
belo Point and 700 yards offshore there is a rock whicli alwaj^s 
breaks. Jose Pobre Point is just open off Sabanilla Point 
K 56° E. (N. 51° E. mag.) when near it. 

"Sabanilla Point is fringed by a reef and some rocks, 
the adjacent coast is high and scarped with some bays, and 
Jose Pobre Point, N. 61° E. (N. 56° E. mag.), li miles from 
Sabanilla Point, projects a short distance. 

"Duarte Islets are four in number, extending north-north- 
west and south-southeast three-fourths of a mile. From the 
northernmost islet a reef extends in a northwesterly direction 
about 200 yards. The southernmost islet is separated from 
Duarte Point on the main by a channel a little more than 400 
yards wide, and from Sabanilla Point by a channel a little 
more than one-third of a mile across; between these two 
channels there are from 2f fathoms water close to the islet to 
15 fathoms toward the main. The southeast side of the 
island is fringed by a reef to the distance of 100 yards or 

"Farallon Sucio is the name given to the westernmost 
of a cluster of five small rugged rocks, which occupj^ a space 
of about one-fourth of a mile from east to west. It appears 
to be steep-to, but from the easternmost rock a foul ledge 


extends 300 yards to the southeast. The northernmost islet 
lies west nearly 4 miles from Tambor Island, with 16 to 30 
fathoms claj^ and sand between, and 16, 21, 22, and 25 fathoms 
between the north islet, the islets off the coast, and Lavadera 
ShoaL These rocks appear from a distance as one islet, which 
is remarkable for its barren whiteness. This contrast with 
tiie Duarte Islets, which are dark, or the mainland, makes 
them an excellent landmark from all directions. 

" BoQUERONES POINT is high, salient, and scarped. About 
a mile to the southward Casique Hill rises to a i3eak of moder- 
ate height. Nortlieastward of the point there are five small 
islets named the Boquerones, about 600 yards in extent, 
which are the westernmost of the reefs and cays that extend 
from Pelado Islet. 

"Garrote Harbor. — At 2+ miles southwestward of the 
highest part of Tambor Island is the entrance of Garrote 
Harbor, which is formed on the south side by the mainland, 
on the east by Great Garrote Island, and on the west by 
Pelado and other islets, which extend westward for about 1| 
miles to the mouth of the Boquerones. The entrance, which 
is scarcely 600 yards wide between the reefs westward of Great 
Garrote Island and Pelado Islets, runs in a southerl}^ and 
southeasterly direction, with depths from 12 to 18 fathoms, 
mud, decreasing to 6^ fathoms within. 

"Bastimentos Harbor, although with depths of 3^ to 7 
fathoms and sheltered, is of little importance. All its shores 
are bounded by reefs, and the customary anchorage is to the 
southwest, south, and southeast of the south or sandy point 
of Bastimentos Island. 

"Bastimentos Island is nearly a mile in length northeast 
and southwest, and forms, with the mainland, the northeast 
channel of Bastimentos Harbor, which is about 300 yards wide 
bstween the reefs, with 5 and 5| fathoms, sand. The island 
is foul on its southeast, south, and southwest sides; the latter, 
with Cabret Island, which bears a little to the south of west, 
forms the northwest channel, 600 yards wide in the narrowest 
part between the reefs, and carries from 3^ to 9 fathoms, mud. 

"Lavadera Shoal, northward, nearly three-fourths of a 
mile from the northern extremity of Pelado Islet and west 1 
mile of Cabret Islet, at the mouth of Bastimentos Harbor, is 
composed of rock with very little water on it, and steep-to 


There are 7 and 9 fathoms close to a rock, on which the sea 
breaks. The channels between it and Cabret and Pelado islets 
carry from 14 to 17 fathoms on nuid. 

"Mountains. — Between Garrote and Bastimentos harbors 
is the hill of Garrote, tolerably high, its summit terminating 
in a peak, about three-fourths of a mile from the coast. At 
3J miles about south by east of the little baj" of Garrote is the 
high mountain of Capira, almost always covered with clouds. 
It is nearly east from Porto ]>ello. 

"At a short distance to the southward of Capira are the 
Sierras Lloronas, extending nearly east and west. The east- 
ern part of its summit appears as if cut down vertically, form- 
ing a peak, named Campana, or the ]>ell, and from this peak 
the ridge descends gradually to the westward to near the 
peak of Guanche. The Llorona is the highest range on this 
part of the main, its summit reaching an elevation of 3,000 
feet, and its appearance is such that it can not be mistaken 
for any other. In clear weather it may be seen from a dis- 
tance of 45 miles, but in the season of fresh breezes it is gen- 
erall}^ covered with haze. In the season of the vendavales 
and variable winds it is often visible between 8 and 9 in the 
morning and 4 and 5 in the afternoon, but in the remainder 
of the day it is covered with clouds. 

"Tambor Island, about 1^ miles westward from Manza- 
nillo Point, is high, round, and scarped, and connected by a 
reef 400 yards long, with the northernmost part of Venados 
or Bastimentos Island. 

' ' Manzanillo Point, the northern extremity of the coast 
of Panama, is a high scarped projection, with two hummocks 
on it resembling a saddle. Near this point are several islets 
and a shoal. Martin Pescador, the outermost islet, is about 
200 3^ards in extent from north to south, and lies about a 
mile eastward of the point. About 800 yards S. 28° W. (S. 23' 
W. mag.) of this islet and about three-fourths of a mile from 
the point is Manzanillo Island, which is the largest. Off the 
north side of this island are three' rocky islets, the farthest 
.)ut being distant over 200 yards. S. 28° W. (S. 28° W. mag. ) of 
i.he same island there are three more small islets, surrounded 
by reefs extending northeast and southwest, and also to the 
eastward, about 300 yards, there is another small one. All 
these islets are high and scarped. Between those of Manza- 
nillo and Martin Pescador there are from 10 to 14 fathoms 



" Manzanillo Shoal, lying northwestward, distant 800 
yards from Manzadillo Point, has very little water over it 
and 5 and 6 fathoms close-to. Between it and the point the 
depth is 13 fathoms. 

"With Manzanillo Point bearing S. 51° W. (S. 46° W. mag.) 
and Tambor Island west (S. 85° W. mag.) about 4 miles dis- 
tant, 6 fathoms water, over rocky bottom, have been obtained, 
deepening to 20 fathoms in a northwest direction. 

"Light — Isla Grande Light. — On Isla Grande, off Man- 
zanillo Point, from a white tower is shown a light flashing 
white and red, alternately, every five seconds. The light is 
elevated 305 feet and visible 24 miles. The light has been 
observed to be very irregular in its action, sometimes obscured 
and sometimes showing white or red only for some minutes' 

"San Cristoval Bay.— At 5 miles S. 79° E. (S. 84° E. 
mag.) of Manzanillo Point, a mile to the eastward of which 
is the islet of Martin Pescador, is Pescador Point; both are 
high and scarped. Between these points the shore recedes 
to the southward, forming a bight about 3 miles deep. At 3| 
miles westward of Pescador Point the shore projects con- 
siderably at Cristoval Point, and to the southwestward of 
this, at the bottom of the bight, is the small foal ba}^ of San 
Cristoval. About 400 j^ards northeastward of Cristoval Point 
is an islet named Juan del Pozo, surrounded by rocks, and 
about southeast one-half mile from the islet is the Vibora 
Bank. Between this bank and Juan del Pozo, and between 
the latter and the point, there are 9, 10, and 13 fathoms 
water on gravel and coarse sand, and between the Vibora 
and Bue}^ shoals, off Pescador Point, there are about the 
same depths on sand and cla3\ 

"From the head of San Cristoval Bay reefs extend nearly 
a mile toward Cristoval Point. This part is dangerous in 
strong winds. The coast between Cristoval and Manzanillo 
points is lofty and scarped. 

" NOMBRE DE Dios H ARBOR.— At the cast side of San Cris- 
toval Bay, about H niiles southwestward of Pescador Point, 
is the small cove or harbor of Nombre de Dios. Its mouth 
has 3^, 4, and 5 fathoms, but the entrance points are skirted 
by reefs, and so is the greater part of the interior. 

"Caution. — From the numerous shoals which have been 
pointed out it will be quite evident to the mariner that to 


navigate within this bight requires the greatest eai'e and 
attention, and the leeward part of it should be avoided 

"Pescador or Terrin Point is fringed with reefs which 
extend northward 200 yards and westward one-half mile, and, 
continuing on in a southerl}^ direction, sui'round three islets 
lying between the point and the northea^st point of Nombre 
de Dios Harbor. At 400 yards northwestward of Pescador 
Point is Pescador Islet, and N. 62° W. (N. 67° W. mag.), 
about a mile from the same point, is the Buey Shoal, between 
which and the reefs skirting Pescador Point there are 9 and 
12 fathoms. 

" Mountains. — Among the mountains in this neighborhood 
two are remarkable, named Saxino and Nombre de Dios. The 
first is high and terminates in two peaks near each other, the 
northeasternmost of which bears about S. 6° E. (S. 11° E. 
mag. ) 7 miles from Pescador Point. The latter mountain rises 
to a single peak, about south by west 8 miles from the same 
point, and is a guide for Nombre de Dios Harbor, which is 
nearly on its meridian. 

"Islands. — At 8 miles to the eastward of Pescador Point 
is Quengo Island, about one-half mile from shore, and 6 miles 
farther eastward is the small islet of Culebra. 

"Mountains. — The mountains along this coast are suffi- 
ciently remarkable and useful objects. The Cerro de la Gran 
Loma or Gordo, rising southwestward 7 miles from Culebra 
Islet, being rather more prominent than others in this neigh- 
borhood, serves as a mark for keeping clear of the Escribanos 
bank and shoals. The summit of this hill is of some extent, 
and appears a little higher than the Cordillera, in which it is 

" Escribanos Harbor. — Cocos Point is on the east side of 
the mouth of Escribanos Harbor. Thence the shore to Perro 
Ca}^ is low and forms something of a baj^ skirted b}^ a reef. 
The most prominent objects on it are Playa Colorado, which 
is round and skirted b}^ reefs extending off 200 yards; Mogote 
Point, which is small, a little salient, and has a hillock on it; 
and Morro Colorado, also round, scarped, and projecting but 

"Cocos Point projects into the sea, and from it Escribanos 
Point bears W. 6" S. (W. 11° S. mag.) If miles. In the middle 
of a bay formed between these points is Escribanos Harbor, 


extending to the southward one-half mile, and having only 
from 6 to 9 feet water in it. Outside, off both points, there 
are very shallow reefs, and in the channel formed by them 
there are from 'Si to 6 fathoms. 

"EscRiBANOS Shoals. — About 2 miles northeastward of 
Escribanos Point there are two rocky shoals Ijing close 
together, with very little water over them. The one nearest 
the coast extends east-northeast and west-southwest about a 
mile, and has a small islet upon it; the other lies about west- 
northwest from the islet, and is nearly a mile in extent from 
east to west; both are steep-to, with 3 and 4 fathoms on them. 

"Escribanos Bank.— At 5^ miles N. 51° W. (N. 56° W. 
mag.) of the Escribanos Shoals is the bank of the same name, 
which extends nearly 2 miles in that direction, and has from 
6 to 8 fathoms water over rocky bottom. There is possibly 
less water. To the northward of this edge 400 yards are 16 
to 31 fathoms, and its northwest end bears N. 34° W. (N. 39° 
W. mag.) 8 miles from Escribanos Point. Heavy seas gen- 
erall}^ break upon it, but otherwise a good lookout must be 
kept from aloft for the discolored water. 

"The channel between this bank and the Escribanos Shoals 
carries from 8 to 17 fathoms water on sand, gravel, and rocks. 

"Coral Shoal. — In 1879 the captain of tiie mail steamer 
Saint Laurent reported that his vessel touched twice 10 miles 
from the coast, between San Bias and Manzanillo points. 
Cape Manzanillo bore S. 79° W. (S. 74° W. mag.), and the 
vessel had passed 3 miles to the northward of Escribanos 

"The captain thought the vessel struck upon a bank of 
coral. When she struck the second time the following bear 
ings were taken: Quengo Island S. 6° E. (S. 11° E. mag.), and 
Tambor Island S. 70° AV. (S. 65° W. mag.). No surroundings 
were taken. Vessels should pass well to the northward of 
this doubtful ground. 

"PiEDRAS AND Perro CAYS.— Off the uortliem part of San 
Bias Point, which is low and covered with mangroves, lie the 
Piedras and Perro cays, united to the Cay Frances Reef, 
which terminate at an island in front of a lagoon 1^ miles 
farther to the westward. 

" Gulf of San Blas.— San Bias Point, which forms the 
north point of the gulf of that name, is low and skirted b}^ a 
reef to the distance of If miles, on which are several cays; 


the easternmost is named 'Cay Frances.' From San Bias 
Point to Mandinga Point, south of it, tlie gulf is C miles wide, 
and to the westward of that line it is about the same distance 
deep; the coast is low all round and bounded by mangroves. 
In a southwesterly and westerly direction from Cay Frances 
there are 12 or more islets, upon some of which are small 
fishing establishments, and to the eastward of them are many 
banks and islands, forming part of the Mulatas Archipelago, 
with various channels between. 

The bottom is foul for 1^ miles northeastward of Cay Fran- 
ces, at which distance the depth is 4 fathoms on the edge of 
the reef, whence it drops into deep water. 

"San Blas Channel, the westernmost into the gulf, lies 
between the San Bias Cays to the westward and the Chichime 
and Lemon cays to the eastward and southeastward, and is 
If miles wide, with depths in the fairway of 11 to 25 fathoms. 

"Chichime Channel lies close eastward of Lemon Cays, 
and is about one-half mile wide with a depth of 12 fathoms. 
Patches of 5 fathoms lie 1^ and 2 miles northwestward of 
Chichime Cavs. 

"HoLANDES Channel, the largest of all in this direction, 
is 2^ miles in width, with depths of 13 to 30 fathoms on sandy 
bottom. Its entrance is formed on the east by the western 
extremity of the reef extending from the Holandes Cays, 
which break heavily, and on the southwest by Icacos Caj^ 
which is dry and covered with high icacos trees. 

"At a little more than H miles to the west-northwest of 
Holandes Cays there is a rocky bank of G fathoms, one-half 
mile long north and south, which breaks when there is but 
little swell. It should be left to the westward in entei'ing. 

"Directions. — To enter the Gulf of San Bias by the San 
Bias Channel, which is the best, having opened out the mouth 
of the channel and being on the meridian of the second islet 
(from the westward) of the Lemon Cays, steer south (S. 5° E. 
mag.) toward it until about abreast Cay Frances, the eastern- 
most of the San Bias Cays. Thence the course will be about 
southwest, through the middle of the San Bias Channel, be- 
tween the I'eefs which extend from Cay Frances and those 
from Gallo Cay, the westernmost of the Lemon Cays. Being 
within the latter, a vessel may proceed as most convenient to 
an anchorage on the north side of the gulf, or to Inglesa Bay, 
in the southwest part of it, or to that in Mandinga Bay, which 
is well sheltered. 


"Should the Holancles Channel be taken, the eastern side 
is well marked by the edges of the reefs extending from the 
westernmost of the Holandes Cays, and, as already said, a ves- 
sel should pass between them and the 6-fathom bank, on 
which the sea generally breaks, situated N. 62° W. (N. 67° 
W. mag.) H miles from them. Then steer for the east end 
of the Icacos Reef, giving it a good berth in passing; and 
having brought Icacos Caj^ to bear N. 5° E. (North mag.) 
shape course to pass southward of Guard Cay to Mandinga Bay. 
The channel is clear of danger, with depths from 21 to 25 
fathoms, oozj^ bottom, and from 2^ to 3 miles wide, between 
groups of rocks, detached cays, and reefs. 

" Caution. — Little is known of the northwest or southwest 
heads of the gulf, and great caution should be exercised when 
navigating here; the eye, aloft, is the best guide. 

"Trade. — The district of San Bias has not been open to 
civilization or settlement, as the Indians inhabiting its 
coast and mountains are openlj^ hostile to Colombian rule; it 
is therefore but little known. Vessels trading along this coast 
are obliged to call at Cartagena, where duties are levied and 
collected on their cargoes. 

"MuLATAS Archipelago. — Off San Bias Point commences 
the extensive archipelago of the Mulatas, composed of cays, 
shoals, and reefs, which, sweeping round to the southeast- 
ward at a considerable distance from the mainland, terminate 
at Pajaros Island, about 80 miles distant. Pajaros Island 
lies about 2 miles northward of Pinos Isle. It is low, covered 
with brushwood, and surrounded by reefs having 7 and 8 
fathoms close-to. 

"The ca3^s are mostly low, flat, sandy, and thickly wooded, 
and l^^ing in clusters, having navigable channels between, 
leading into secure anchorages within them all along the 
shore. Some of the cajs have springs of good water, and 
convenient spots for landing and careening, and the fishing 
and turtling around them is excellent. 

"The main shore contains several sandy bays, with many 
small streams running into them, but from the fringe reef are 
extremely difficult of access. 

"The interior of the main is high and mountainous, and 
there are many remarkable peaks, which serve as guides to 
the anchorages and channels to those Avith local knowledge. 

"The principal channels are those of San Bias, Chichime, 


liolaiides, Caobos, Moron, Mangles, Puyadas, Arebalo, Playon 
Grande, Ratones.^Rio de Monos, Cocos, Punta Brava, Zam- 
bogandi, Ouiti, Mosquitos, and Pinos, which are all more or 
less easily navigated by those acquainted with them. Great 
care and attention to the lead is required in navigating this 
coast, for it is supi)osed many banks lie outside the cays simi- 
ar to those in the neighborhood of the Sasardi Islands, which 
in heavy weather are dangerous. 

"HOLANDES Cays.— This group is about 7 miles in extent 
east to west. Its eastern extremity lies N. 84° E. (N. 79° E. 
mag.), 18 miles from San Bias Point. The north side of the 
reef which bounds the cays is 8 to 10 miles from the coast, 
and the cays are separated from those immediately^ adjacent 
to the mainland by a clear opening 3 miles wide. A patch 
of 5 fathoms lies about 2 miles S. 11° E. (S. 1G° E. mag.) of 
Caobos, the largest of the Holandes Ca^^s. It is apparentl}^ 
the best channel to the anchorages in the Gulf of San Bias 
when coming from the eastward, but sailing vessels would 
have to leave by one of the northern channels. Many spots 
on the chart have not been sounded. 

"Navagandi or Mona River. — At 3 or 4 miles to the 
westward of Pinos Isle is the entrance to this little river. 
The water in it is excellent, but the narrow cuts leading in 
through the reefs are intricate and the breakers so heavy 
that it is extremely difficult and dangerous for a boat to get 
through them. Abreast the west end of Pinos Isle is the 
entrance of the Kavagandi lagoon, which is blocked up by the 
reefs which skii't the shore all along. 

"On a sandy spit on the east side there are a few huts, and 
6 or 7 miles u^d the river there is a settlement where vegeta- 
bles and poultry may be obtained. 

"Pinos Isle, the southeastern extremity of which lies 
northwestward, about 2 miles from Sasardi Point, is about a 
mile in length southeast and northwest, and a little less in 
breadth ; it is separated from the main by a channel 400 yards 
wide in its narrowest part, with 2 to 3 fathoms water on sand 
and grass. The island is 400 feet high, and a hill extends 
through it, on which are two remarkable wooded i)eaks; its 
northeast and south sides are scarped and bordered by reefs, 
which, however, lie near the shore. 

"Water. — On the south side of Pinos Isle there is a small 
stream of good water, which runs down a gully and into a 


small basin at the bottom of the declivity, but so near the 
shore that an nnusual rise of the tide washes away the sand, 
and the sea flows into it. 

"Firewood may be cut to the eastward of the watering 
place, but great care must be taken to avoid touching the 
manchineel tree, which abounds here and is poisonous. 

"Anchorage. — There is anchorage both off the east and 
west ends of Pinos Isle, but exposed, the former from the east 
to northeast, the latter fi'om the north to northwest; and a 
constant ground swell rolls in, particularly at the eastern 
anchorage, which makes riding very uneasj^ At the east end 
a berth Avill be found in 9 fathoms, with the south end of the 
island about N. 18° W. (N. 23° W. mag.), but vessels of light 
draft may go so far in as to bring it to bear N. 28° E. (N". 23° 
E. mag. ) . The point is so bold that a small vessel might heave 
down alongside it. 

"The western anchorage is b}^ far the better, being partly 
sheltered from the sea breeze. These anchorages, however, 
should only be used in case of necessit}^ 

"Sasardi J3ay and Harbor. — The Sasardi Islands are 
separated from Sasardi Point on the main b}^ an opening 
three-fourths of a mile wide, which is exposed on the northeast 
side. From Sasardi Point the coast trends to the northward, 
then to the south west ward, forming a bay about three-fourths 
of a mile in extent, near the center of which there is convenient 
anchorage for watering in 4 to 6 fathoms. The Sasardi Rivu- 
let, about 10 feet wide and with 2 feet of water on the bar, 
flows into the western side of this bay and is the best place to 
obtain water; canoes manage to get up it with some difficulty 
about 2 miles; on the north side of tlie entrance there is a 
village. The land is here much lower than in the neighbor- 
hood of Port Escoces. 

"In the interior of the bay tliere are several shoals nearly 
awash and consequently easily avoided; a small reef with 1^ 
fathoms on it lies to the southward of Sasardi Point, distant 
about 800 yards, and just within the line of entrance about 
two-thirds the way across from Sasardi Point there is a hard 
flat ledge about 400 j^ards in length, upon which the sea gen- 
erally breaks. The channel to the eastward of this ledge Is 
only 400 yards wide, with a depth of 4 fathoms; to the west- 
ward of the ledge in mid-channel there are 9 fathoms. The 
outermost of the banks in the immediate vicinit}^ of the 


entrance has 3^ fathoms over it and lies N. 42° E. (N. 37° E. 
mag.) 2 miles from the western extremitj^ of the Sasardi 
islands, with the northeastern extremity of Oro Island just 
shut in with the Crag Rock, bearing S. 32° E. (S. 37° E. mag.). 
A bank of 4^ fathoms lies N. 5° E. (north mag.) H niiles 
from the 3^-fathom bank. 

" Supplies.— The inhabitants of the village of Sasardi sub- 
sist by fishing and hunting and the cultivation of plantains 
and cocoa. The latter article and cocoanut oil are exported 
in small quantities in American vessels, which give in exchange 
arms, ammunition, cotton, and culinary articles. Xo live 
stock is to be obtained, but the sea abounds in fish, and plenty 
of turtle are caught in May and June. 

"The interior is densely wooded with trees of the most 
valuable description, growing to the height of 70 to 100 feet. 
Among them are found the mahogany, cedar, silk-cotton, 
ebony, satinwood, rosewood, fustic, logAvood, Avith many of 
the pine family adapted for spars and masts. The Indians 
nse cedar for their canoes and a red wood called calli-calli, 
which is very hard and durable, notwithstanding the destruct- 
ible effects of the worms and insects of this climate. 

"Water. — The Sasardi Rivulet is b}^ far the most con- 
venient place at which to water. 

"Directions. — In approaching Sasardi Baj^ or Harbor from 
the eastward, the mark already given for the outer banks 
should not be crossed until the Sasardi village is brought just 
in sight to the southw^ard of Sasardi Point, S. 87° W. (S. 82° 
W. mag.). This latter mark will lead to the southward of 
the outer bank, and when the Avest end of Sasardi Island 
bears S. 23° W. (S. 18° W. mag.) the course may be altered 
for either of the channels most convenient. If intending to 
enter the harbor between the cays and the main, and the 
eastern channel is taken, the reefs which skirt the Sasardi 
Islands should be rounded within 200 yards; if the western 
channel, the opening should be steered for about one- third 
the distance across the Sasardi Point. 

"After passing the shoal in the middle, composed of hard 
limestone, Sasardi Island will be found steep-to, and anchor- 
age may be taken up anywhere within 200 yards of it in from 
5 to 7 fathoms. The shoals all lie on the western side of the 
harbor, and are easil}^ avoided by the eye. To sail out is not 
so easy, except with a land wind, for the channels are nar- 
row and the sea rough Avith the usual sea breeze. 


"Tides. — The tidal streams are overcome by a current 
which sets through the Sasarcli Channel to the southeastward 
about one-third mile per hour. 

''Oro Island, the easternmost and highest of a range of 
caj^s and rocks which lie from 1 to 3 miles from the mainland 
and extend in a northwest direction about 5 miles, is 470 feet 
high at its eastern extremity. The edges of the reefs which 
skirt it and the little ca3^s and rocks extending a mile to the 
southeastward of it to Piedra Isle always show themselves 
and are steep-to. The Oro Shoal of 4 fathoms, which lies 400 
yards from the eastern point of that island, also breaks in 
strong breezes. 

"Caledonia Harbor.— Between these cays and the main 
are two well-slieltered harbors, the westernmost, Sasardi, the 
easternmost named Caledonia, which are only separated by 
a narrow bar with 12 feet water over it. 

"The entrance to the harbor is one-half mile v/ide between 
the shoals fronting Oro Island and the Reventazones break- 
ers, with a depth of 15 to 17 fathoms in the fairway and 8 to 
9 fathoms in the anchorage. Apparentlj'- there is no settle- 
ment here. 

"Reventazones Shoals. — The entrance to Caledonia 
Harbor is obstructed by three dangerous shoals, on which 
the sea breaks heavily in strong breezes, lying about a mile 
to the southeastward of the cays extending from the south- 
west end of Oro Island. 

"The shallowest spots are known as Outer, Middle, and 
South shoals, with least known depths of 2^ to 3^ fathoms, 
and cover a space of 1^ miles north and south. 

"A patch of 4i fathoms lies about a mile N. 72° E. (N. 67° 
E. mag.) of the south extreme of south shore, about niidwaj^ 
between it and an outlying 4-fathom patch in the approach 
to Port Escoces. 

"Mount Vernon, on the southeast point of entrance to the 
harbor, and Piedra Isle, the southeasternmost of the cays 
(which is very small) in line, bearing about S. 84° W. (S. 79° 
W. mag.), will lead just clear to the northward of the outer- 
most s)ioal, which has 3^ fathoms water. There are chan- 
nels between the shoals and between the southernmost and 
the main, all of which are clearly pointed on the chart, but 
they are too intricate for a stranger to navigate. 

"Winds and Seasons.— In Caledonia Harbor, as else- 
where on this coast, there are two seasons, the wet and the 


dry. The latter continues from January to Api-il or May, 
wlien the wind blows strong and often violent during the day 
from north-northwest to north-northeast, accompanied by a 
very lieavy sea, and lulls on the shore to nearly a calm dur- 
ing the night. At this season the temperature is about 82°, 
the atmosphere is exceedingly^ moisr, and so hazj^ that at 
times the land can not be seen more than 5 hiiles, yet the 
climate is generall}^ healthy. 

"In the rain}^ season, which occupies the remaining j)ortion 
of the year, the breeze lulls and becomes variable, and a land 
wind' blows off, with occasional squalls from the southwest 

"Tides. — It is high water, full and cliange, at Caledonia 
Harbor at llh. iOm.; the rise at springs is 1^ feet and at 
neaps 6 inches. 

"Directions. — Approaching Caledonia Harbor, and hav^- 
ing brought Oro Island to bear about S. 51° W. (S. 40° AV. 
mag.) before Carreto Peak comes over the outer isleta (the 
line of the outer banks), Piedra Isle must be brought in line 
Avith a remarkable hill, bearing S. 45° W. (S. 40° W. mag.), 
which mark will lead between the outer banks. The reefs 
which skirt Ora Island must then be rounded at the distance 
of 400 yards, passing between them and the Reventazones 
Banks. From abreast Rocky Cay a vessel will generally have 
to work to windward, and when standing to the westward 
the south end of the sandy beach in Surf Ba}^ must not be 
shut in with San Fulgencio Point, at the base of Mount Ver- 
non, nor must Rocky Cay be shut in with Dobbin Cay when 
standing to the eastward. 

" These limits give a clear space of 8 to 10 fathoms water on 
mud, in any part of which there is good anchorage. If desir- 
able to go farther up, as far as Scorpion Csiy, the eye must 
be the guide, observing that the bottom can not be seen at a 
greater depth than 12 feet. 

"An entrance can also be made as far to the southward as 
to bring on the mark given before for clearing the north end 
of the Reventazones, but great care must be taken not to 
cpen Mount Vernon to the southward of Piedra Isle before 
these banks are iJassed or the Oro Rock is in line with Craig- 
Rock, the outermost islet. 

"In sailing out of the harbor vessels will generally have a 
wind either from the north-northeast in the season of the 


breezes or off the land occasionally in the wet months. It 
will be merely necessary to skirt Rocky Cay and reef at a 
safe distance and, getting on the line of Piedra Isle and Mount 
Yernon, proceed to sea on that mark. Should the wind not 
admit of this, short tacks must be made toward and along the 
reef until past the outer Reventazones Shoal. In the event 
of missing stays when standing close to the Reventazones 
Breakers, a thing very likely to occur from the heavy sea, it 
would be better to keep awaj^ and pass to the leeward of the 
shoal than attempt to tack again. Vessels can also pass out 
along the shore to the southward of tlie Reventazones, taking 
care not to go outside the line between the west extreme of 
Dobbin Cay and a remarkable solitaiy tree on Scorpion Cay, 
N. 40° W. (N. 45° W. mag.), until the Aglatomate huts bear 
northward of N. 8-5° W. (AVest mag.), or the outer isleta is 
just shut in with the northern extremity of Escoces Point, 
when the vessel may haul out to the eastward of those shoals. 

" Tree Top Hill, 200 feet high, touching north side of Man- 
grove Cay or the north extreme of San Fulgencio Point, bear- 
ing N. 65° W. (N. 70° W. mag.), leads between Escoces Point 
and the off-lying banks. 

"Escoces Point terminates at Pattersons Hill, 260 feet 
high; but 3^ miles to the southward of it the mountain ridge, 
which extends parallel to the shore, rises to the height of 
1,180 feet, and about 7 miles to the westward to the height of 
1,985 feet. About 3 miles southeastward of the point and 
about a mile from the shore are three small rockj^ islets, 
named Las Isletas, and within them is a c^y of larger dimen- 

" Port Escoces. — Escoces Point is the extremity of a nar- 
row neck of land about 2 miles in length in a northwest direc- 
tion which forms the northeast side of an inlet of irregular 
breadth, named 'Port Escoces.' In the center of the outer 
part there is a depth of 6 fathoms, whence it gradually de- 
creases to 3 fathoms at the head of the inner arm. 

The entrance is about three-fourths of a mile Avide, but the 
outer part is obstructed by the Escoces Reef, 3 feet high, 
lying about three-fourths of a mile to the westAvard of Escoces 
Point; there is a channel for either side of it, but the western 
is the better. The west and south sides of the reef are bold, 
but about 400 yards N. 67° E. (N. 62° E. mag.) of it there is 
a small head, with 18 feet water. With a strong northeast 


wind tlie sea breaks across between the roek and Escoces 
Point; also on tlie Middle Reef, Antonio and Harbor Kocks, 
in the interior of the inlet. 

"In the approach from the southward and eastward are sev- 
eral coral banks. One of them, with a least known dei3th of 4^ 
fathoms, lies with the north extreme of Escoces Point S. 81° 
W. (S. 70° W. m^g.), distant about 2 miles. A patch of 4 
fathoms lies with the east extreme of the point South (S. 5° 
E. mai^.), distant about If miles. 

" Carreto Peak, in line or shut in on the outer islet, leads 
inside the 4|-fathom bank, and the peak ke^jt open of that 
islet leads outside the 4-fathom bank. 

"Water. — Several small rivulets of good water run into the 
south side of the port, but they are sometimes dry, and land- 
ing is generallj^ difficult. In a little sandy bay about 3 miles 
to the westward of Escoces Point, is the entrance of the Agla- 
tomate River; and one-half mile farther on, in Surf Ba}^, is 
the entrance of the Aglaseniqua. 

"These rivers are from 20 to 30 feet broad and never dry, 
and the waters in both are excellent, but difficult to obtain in 
rough weather. When moderate, the best landing is under 
cover of the little reef at the mouth of the Aglaseniqua; but 
the most convenient place for watering is at the mouth of the 
Sasardi, farther northward. On the west side of the entrance 
of the Aglatomate there are a few bamboo huts. 

"Directions. — Vessels of heavier draft than 20 feet must 
approach the entrance to Port Escoces with great care, for 
there are several coral banks in the offing which, in lieavy 
weather, are dangerous. Having rounded the Escoces Reef 
within the distance of about 400 3^ards to the westward, the 
eye must be the guide, directing the course in mid-channel 
until nearly abreast the narrowest part of the entrance, 
between the old fort point and the opposite side, w^hen the 
eastern shore should be kept aboard to avoid the Middle Reef, 
which may be seen from aloft. 

"Anchorage maybe obtained as soon as convenient within 
the Middle Reef. In entering the inner arm the wind baffles 
so much after passing Harbor Rock as to make it very dan- 
gerous, although there may be a strong breeze outside. 

"Port Carreto. — On the west side of Carreto Point, be- 
tween it and some small islets lying about 1^ miles to the 
northwestward of it, the shore curves to the southwestward, 


forming a bay about a mile deep, in which there are not less 
than 3 nor more than 8 fathoms water. Being exposed, how- 
ever, to the heavy sea thrown in by the northeast breezes, it is 
only of use as an anchorage in the season of light weather. 

"Carreto Shoals. — To the northward of this port about 
1| miles are two small rocky banks, near each other, lying in 
a northeast and southwest direction, with o-J fathoms over 
them and 20 to 25 fathoms close around, but they break with 
fresh breezes. 

"Anachucuna Bay. — From the point under the peak of 
Carreto to Cape Tiburon the shore, consisting of a sandy 
beach, extends about east-southeast 13 miles, forming a bend 
about 2| miles deep, named Anachucuna Baj^ 

"Port Escondido. — At the northwest end of this bay, 
about 2 miles to the south of Carreto Point, is the little harbor 
of Escondido, adapted only for coasting vessels. 

"Cape Tiburon. — The northwestern extremity of the Gulf 
of Darien is rocky, high, and scarped; projecting boldly out 
to the northeast, it forms on each side a small harbor. That 
to the southward of the neck is so narrow as to be of little use, 
but Miel Harbor, on the west side, has good holding ground 
of sand and clay, in 11 to 12 fathoms water. 

"Gulf of Darien. — The entrance to this gulf is formed 
between Cape Tiburon and Caribana Point, which are 29 
miles apart; and from this line the gulf is 46 miles long. 

"The vs^estern shore. — From Cape Tiburon the coast 
takes a southeasterly direction for about 12 miles to the Gandi 
River; midway between, a mile offshore, lies Tonel Island, 
which is steep-to on its east side. 

"From Gandi River to the point of that name the shore 
trends about southeast about If miles, forming Estola Bay, 
into which the little Estola River empties, but neither the 
river nor the bay is of any importance. 

"From Gandi to Tripo Gandi Point a low sandy shore 
trends nearly east-southeast about 6 miles, forming Gandi 
Bay. Piton Islet, steep-to, lies one-half mile from the coast. 
At 3 miles S. 56° E. (S. 61° E. mag.) are the Bolanderos Islets, 
which consist of one large islet, with several small ones to the 
southward of it, all of them clear and bold and not farther 
than three-fourths mile from the shore. Tambor Islet lies 3 
miles to the southward and eastward and rather more than 
one-half mile from the shore; at about one-half N. 28° E. {N. 
12312—03 6 


23° E. mag.) of it a rocky shoal shows itself, between which 
and the islet there is a clear passage ; it is, however, always 
better to pass outside. To the westward of Tambor Islet the 
shore forms a bay named Port Escondido, which affords shel- 
ter for small vessels. The Tumate islets, three in number, 
one-half mile from the coast, are 4 miles farther on. Four 
miles from the Tumate Islets are the Tarena Cays, which lie 
close to the shore. 

''The whole of the coast between the Tarena Cays and 
Cape Tiburon is high, bold, and clear of danger, but it is 
very wild in the season of the breezes. At this period the 
eastern shore of the gulf should be kept aboard, where good 
anchorage will be found, if necessary, and a smooth sea for 
working to windward. 

"At 2i miles southeastward of the Tarena Caj^s the shore 
takes an easterly direction for 6 miles to Revesa Point, form- 
ing the northern boundary of the delta of the Atrato. The 
principal mouth of the river opens out about 3 miles to the 
westward of the point; but being so exposed to the breezes, 
the commerce is more conveniently carried on by means of 
the little Faisan Branch, which has the advantage of the 
adjacent anchorage in Candelaria Bay. 

"The sand thrown out of the main branch is deposited at 
a long distance, and this part of the coast should not be 
approached nearer than 2 miles. 

"In the bight, at 5 miles west of Revesa Point, a hill named 
the Peak of Tarena rises near the shore, and thence a lofty 
ridge, having several remarkable peaks, stretches in a north- 
west direction as far as Cape Tiburon ; the southernmost is 
named Candelaria, the center one Gandi, and the northern- 
most Pico de Cabo. The latter rises beyond Cape Tiburon. 

"The western shore of the gulf, for the distance of about 
20 miles from its head, is low, swampy, and irregular, being 
ormed by the delta of the Atrato River, which enters the 
gulf by numerous branches, eight of which are navigable for 
canoes and bungos. At the outermost part of the delta the 
gulf is contracted to a width of only 4 miles. 

"Atrato River, probably the fourth largest river in vol- 
ume in South America, rises in a spur of the Antioquian 
Range that connects the latter with the divide or Cordilleras 
of Darien. Flowing on a course generally north for several 
hundred miles, it empties through thirteen mouths into the 



Gulf of Darien. It has numerous tributaries on both sides. 
This river was survej^ed by Commander Lull, U. S. Navy., for 
160 miles, or as far up as the mouth of the Bojaya. Its banks 
are low, and for the whole of this distance, during the wet 
season, are overflowed to a depth of 3 or 4 feet, from which 
cause all the houses are built upon piles. Below Sucio there 
are no inhabitants upon the banks, as thej^ are submerged 
ten months of the j^ear. This river resembles the lower Mis- 
sissippi in grandeur of proportion, Avith its long reaches, its 
width varying from 500 to 825 yards, and its great depth, often 
exceeding 10 fathoms. Its current varies from 2 to 3 knots 
per hour, which would be much increased in the rainy season 
but for the overflow of the banks, which permits an escape of 
the surplus water by spreading for miles over the adjacent 

"The survej^ was made in a rowboat floating down with 
the current, and nowhere in the channel were found less than 
28 feet. Over the whole distance survej^ed no rocks were 
found; the bottom was muddy, and the river unobstructed 
hy snags. So well defined is its channel and so free from 
obstructions that a single passage up and return would be 
sufficient to make one acquainted with the navigation. 

"The mouths of the Atrato are obstructed by bars, upon 
which there will not be found more than 6 feet of water. 
Thej differ in character, however, according to their protec- 
tion from the sea. The Uraba mouth, being farthest from 
the sea, and also protected by a long sand spit, is fixed in its 
nature, and the bar is of hard sand. These bars, as they in- 
crease b}^ fresh deposits, extend out and break off abruptly 
from 2 to 10 fathoms. 

" The extensive delta projects far beyond the limits of the 
mainland, and banks, composed of a deposit of the softest 
ooze, extend about a mile outside the bars, exposed, however, 
to constant changes, especially during the season of the 

" Revesa Bay. — From Revesa or Choco Point to the north- 
west point of Candelaria Bay the low mangrove shore 
trends about south by east 5 miles. Revesa Point, project- 
ing a little to the eastward, affords off its south side good 
anchorage with northerly winds. Vessels entering the Revesa 
anchorage may pass within 300 yards of that point, and anchor 
as soon as it bears eastward of north in 13 or 14 fathoms. 


The sand bank skirting Candelaria Bay gradually disappears 
as Revesa Point is approached. 

" Candelaria Bay. — On the north side of the delta of the 
Atrato there is a bight about 2^ miles in extent, named Can- 
delaria Bay. The land around, however, is so low tliat the 
greater part is inundated, even at low water; and it is bor- 
dered with mangroves, reeds, and rushes, so that only the 
northwest part of the bay appears dry. A sand bank skirts 
the whole circuit of the bay and extends a mile southeastward 
from the northwest point, which reduces the entrance between 
it and the mouth of the Little Faisan branch of the Atrato to 
scarcely a mile in breadth. Off the mouth of the Faisan, and 
along the southeast side of the bay, however, the bank does 
not reach to more than about 300 yards from the shore, leav- 
ing a space of good anchorage about 1^ miles in extent. 

"The bar of the Little Faisan has 3 feet of water upon it, 
and it is one of the best branches by which canoes enter the 

"Directions. — To enter Candelaria Bay great attention 
is required to the soundings, care being taken not to shoal in 
less than 17 fathoms in the entrance nor 12 within. This 
caution is absolutely necessarj^, for the sand bank that skirts 
the shore is so steep that it shoals suddenly from 13 to 5 
fathoms, and from 5 to getting aground. By preserving a 
proper depth a vessel will pass about 800 yards off the south- 
east point, and, having entered, the discolored water on the 
edge of the bank may be seen from aloft. 

"Tides. — The tide in the Gulf of Darien rises 2 feet. 

"The eastern shore. — From the head of the Gulf to 
Uraba Point the eastern shore trends nearly north 29 miles, 
and is very low and swampy, the only remarkable object 
being the little hill that forms Cayman Point 9 miles from 
Uraba Point. The soundings are regular, and this shore 
may be easily navigated with proper attention to the lead. 
The head of the Gulf is about 10 miles in breadth, and the 
Suriquilla River flows into the middle of it. 

"From Uraba Point the shore, Tvhich is low, with a few 
small hillocks, trends about north -northwest for 6 miles to 
the Salado River, and thence for about 5^ miles in a westerly 
direction to Arenas Point, a low, sandy peninsula, bold and 


" From Arenas Point the shore trends to the northward for 
about 3 miles, when it bends abruptly to the northeastward 
to Caribana Point, the north point of the low, sandy penin- 
sula, about 2^ miles in breadth at the extremity from north to 
south. The west face of this peninsula is bold and steep-to, 
and may be safely coasted at the distance of a mile. The 
interior is occupied by the Aguila Lagoon, about 5^ miles in 
extent from east to west, in which are many mangrove cays. 

" Caribana Point is low and wooded. At a short distance 
within the point is Cerro Aguila, and, although of only mod- 
erate height, it is remarkable from standing alone in the mid- 
dle of low land, and is a useful guide." — Hydrographic Office^ 
Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, No. 6'^. 


" Coast. — Between Burica Point and the southwest extrem- 
ity of Parida Island, 32 miles N. 85° E. of the point, the coast 
recedes 17 miles in a gradual curve, forming a large bay, within 
which are no known dangers. On the northern shore, which 
is low and wooded, are the small rivers Bartolome, Pinos, an 
Piedra, but no port or place of resort. The western shore 
is higher and deep water approaches nearer to it. The open 
anchorage along the coast is considered in general safe. 

"The delta of the David River lies on the eastern side of 
the bay north of Parida Island and is formed by numerous 
low islands fronting the coast for a distance of 17 miles, from 
the Boca San Pedro on the west to Boca Chica on the east, 
covered by extensive shoals with heavy breakers. Within 
the islands the low coast is a lab3^rinth of small streams and 

"Boca San Pedro, about 30 miles N. 60° E. from Burica 
Point, between the large islands San Pedro and Sevilla, is the 
westernmost and main entrance to the David River and the 
shortest approach to the city of that name. The original sur- 
veyors, both British and French, regarded this entrance as 
impracticable for vessels and even for boats, although used 
by the native fishermen, and considered the Boca Chica, with 
the connecting 25 miles of intricate navigation, the only prac- 
ticable approach to the river and city of David. 

"A sketch survey made in 1900 by Mr. J. A. Rupert Jones, 
of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, and now incorpo- 
rated on the latest charts of the locality, shows a close line of 


soundings across the bar in a comparatively straight course, 
with a least depth of 4 fathoms, to an anchorage in 4| fathoms 
about three-fourths mile northward of San Pedro Point, 
the southeast end of San Pedro Island. The channel is dan- 
gerous with a heavy southwest swell, and the banks border- 
ing the channel on the eastern side within the bar and oppo- 
site San Pedro Island are extending westward ; the present 
width of the channel abreast of San Pedro Point, which it 
closely skirts, is about 700 yards, the width of the opening 
between San Pedro Point and Powis Point, the western ex- 
tremity of Sevilla Island, being nearly 2^ miles. On San 
Pedro bank, which forms the west side of the channel, the sea 
breaks heavily, and along the edge of the bank incessantly. 

" The German bark Theodore^ of 680 tons, registered, crossed 
the bar of the Boca San Pedro February 2, 1892, and lay at 
the anchorage above San Pedro Point until March 24, when, 
having loaded a cargo of brazil wood, she passed out, drawing 
15 feet, being the first large vessel to visit the port. Captain 
Saunders of the steamer Elvira^ of 200 tons, on whose recom- 
mendation the Theodore was chartered and who towed the 
vessel into and out of the harbor, appears to have been the 
first to discover a navigable channel across the bar and the 
first to make general use of it. At the time of the Tlieodore's 
visit the coasting steamers calling at David, although with 
Punta Arenas as a farther destination, made the long circuit 
by the Boca Chica. 

"Anchorage. — There is good anchorage off the entrance 
to the channel in 13 fathoms with the southeast end of San 
Pedro Island bearing N. 29° E. (N. 23° E. mag.) and distant 
3| miles. The water shoals gradually shoreward, and a mile 
farther in on this bearing there are 8 fathoms. From the 
anchorage here given, to enter the port the course is first N. 
12° E. (N. 6° E. mag.) for 1^ miles, then N. 57° E. (K 51° E. 
mag.) li miles, then K 17° E. (K 11° E. mag.) li miles to 
the inner anchorage, the last course for half the distance 
skirting the east side of San Pedro Islind at about 200 yards. 

"Caution. — On account of the liability to frequent and 
sudden changes of all open sea bars, it would manifestly be 
imprudent to use this channel without a pilot or prior inves- 
tigation by boat. 

" CiUDAD DE David, the capital of the province of Chiriqui, 
with 9,000 to 10,000 inhabitants, lies about 10 miles north of 



San Pedro Island and the river mouth and about 2^ miles 
from Pedregal, a small village on the right bank of the west- 
ern branch of the river. From the anchorage within San 
Pedro Point a least depth of three-fourths fathom can be 
carried 10^ miles to Pedregal and a couple of miles beyond, 
the small coasting steamers of 200 tons ascending to the vil- 
lage, whence a road leads across a treeless grassy plain to the 
city. This plain gives good pasturage to many horses and 
cows. On n earing the city the character of the country 
changes and hills occur; the ground is more or loss cultivated 
and is divided up by fences. Nothing, however, appears of 
the town until the first houses are reached. It does not pre- 
sent a striking appearance, consisting for the most part of 
bamboo huts and wooden houses with thatched roofs and clay 
floors. Nevertheless, there are many well furnished stores in 
which can be bought at a reasonable price all that one may 
wish. There were at the time of the Theodore^ s visit but few 
foreigners settled in David, among them being a German 
physician, here stranded, and a few Italian laborers. 

"Supplies. — Meat, poultry, eggs, rice, yams, and fruit are 
abundant and cheap. The price of a live ox is 112 to $14. 
Onl3^ flour is dear. Good drinking water can be obtained 
from the river at the junction of the eastern and the western 
branch, above the Hacienda Pino. 

"Se villa and San Pedro islands abound in game, which is 
easily obtainable. The latter island is a private possession 
and consists of open grass fields and dark forests, giving sup- 
port to some hundreds of cattle and numerous horses and 
swine. Of human dwellers there are here only the so-called 
matador, who has the supervision of the cattle, and a few 
nomadic Indian fisher people. The soil, though fruitful, is 
not cultivated. 

"Climate. — The climate, in the dry season at least, was 
considered by the captain of the Theodore to be not un- 
healthy. During the seven weeks of the Theodore's stay 
at San Pedro, February 2 to March 25, there was not a 
single case of sickness on board, although the days were hot 
and all the work of discharging ballast and taking in and 
stowing the cargo of brazil wood was done by the men. The 
nights were always agreeably cool and there were no mos- 

"Parida Island is of irregular shape, about 4 miles long 


NNE. and SSW., and 2 miles wide in its widest part. It is 
well wooded, but not high, and has rivulets affording abun- 
dance of water. Numerous islets with many sunken reefs 
among them lie off the east and southeast sides of the island 
to a distance of 5 miles, all of them being apparently within 
the line of 10 or 12 fathoms. Bolano and Baraco, the largest 
of these islets, terminate the group, Ijdng about 4^ miles east 
of the south end of Parida. The chart shows at 2 miles east- 
ward of them several rocks awash, and at about three-fourths 
mile southward of Baraco several rocks under water. Close 
to both groups are soundings of 12 fathoms. Channels doubt- 
less exist among the islets and reefs, but vessels must keep 
outside of them, as they have not been closely examined, 
and in approaching David Bay from the southwestward give 
the whole locality a good berth. 

"Parida anchorage. — The only anchorage is at the 
northeast end of the island, in 6^ fathoms, sheltered from 
the southward by the long, low island Gami. Here there is a 
sandy beach for landing and abundance of good water. To 
reach this anchorage from the eastward from a position west 
of Widow Rock steer for the San Jose islands, and then, 
leaving these islands to the northward, steer for the north 
end of Parida, maintaining a depth of 7 to 6 fathoms, but 
decreasing to 3^ fathoms as the anchorage is approached, 
when it deepens again to 6^ fathoms at the anchorage, close 
to the shore. 

**A narrow channel with 8 to 3^ fathoms of water leads sea- 
ward close around the north end of the island. 

"Boca Brava, between Sevilla and Brava islands, lies 6i 
miles north of the north end of Parida, from which a chan- 
nel leads through the shoals in almost a straight course with 
a least depth of 3 fathoms, deepening between the islands 
to 6 fathoms, and within to 9 fathoms. There is no informa- 
tion as to this channel being used to reach an anchorage 
within the islands or to communicate with David, although 
as the entrance is exactly marked by the north point of Par- 
ida and the channel more sheltered than that of San Pedro 
and deeper than the Boca Chica it would appear to have at 
times decided advantages. 

"Chimmo Bay, at the southwest end of Parida Island, is 
small, with depths of 10 to 2| fathoms. The Santa Cruz Islet 
fronts the bay, and the passage in is north of the islet, some 


rocks extending southward from it to the shore. A reef also 
runs southward a short distance from some islets on the north 
side of the bay. Good fresh water may be obtained in the 
northeast part of the bay. 

"Tides. — High water, full and change, in Chimmo Bay is 
at oh. 15m, ; rise of tide, 10| feet. 

"Caution. — The southwest point of Parida Island should 
be given a berth of about a mile on account of some sunken 
rocks one-half mile from it, with depths of 15 and 16 fathoms 
close to them. 

"Grono Rock, with a depth of 6 feet over it and 30 fath- 
oms close to, has been reported to exist 3^ miles S. 37° W. 
(S. 31° W. mag.) from Santa Cruz Point. Breakers were 
seen in this locality by the master of the steamship Casma, 
who was informed by a diver engaged in the pearl fishery of 
the existence of the rock, with particulars as above. It has 
been entered on the chart as doubtful in position. 

"David Bay, as named by the original surveyors, lies 
between Parida Island and El Juco Point, 11 miles N. 67° E. 
of the SE. part of the island, the name being also given on 
the present chart to the great bay west of the island. In it 
are numerous islands and rocks, but with the assistance of 
the chart little difftculty should be experienced in selecting 
an anchorage. 

"The Monitas are two islets on a reef lying about a mile 
nearly south of Juco Point. The western islet closely resem- 
bles a saddle. The channel between the Monitas and Juco 
Point is considered unsafe on account of the currents in it, 
although the depth is from 7 to 8 fathoms; hence vessels 
making for Palenqne anchorage generally pass to the south- 
ward of these islands. 

"YiUDA OR Widow Rock, lying 2f miles S. 11° E. of the 
western Monita, is an isolated rock with a reef extending 
from it one-half mile in a direction S. 69° E. At low water 
four pinnacles are uncovered, but at high water only one is 
visible. As this rock and reef are both steep, with soundings 
close around them of 10 to 12 fathoms, great care is required 
in avoiding them. It is said that to vessels approaching 
David Bay from the southward the position of the Yiuda may 
generalh' be known by breakers, but w^hether this be the case 
or not, lying in the fair way of vessels and so far from the 
shore, it is a very formidable danger. 



"A sunken rock, the existence of which there is great rea- 
son to doubt, was many years ago reported at about 4 miles 
SSE. mag. from the Viuda. The French surveying vessel 
Ohligado searched for it unsuccessfully, although assisted in 
the search by a native who stated that he had seen breakers 
upon it; it was said to show but very rarely. The difficulty 
of finding an isolated sunken rock in deep water is well 
known; hence it will be prudent to exercise more than ordi- 
nary vigilance when in the vicinity of this reported danger, 
especially as no soundings are recorded about the site. 

"El Buey, a dangerous rock of small extent in the middle 
of David Bay, with soundings of 5 to 7 fathoms close to it, 
only uncovers at half tide, not showing at all in fine weather 
at high tide. No well-defined landmarks can be given for 
this danger, but it lies 1^ miles N. 49° E. from the summit of 
the highest San Jose islet and 3 miles N, 78° W. from the 
western Monita. The chart shows the rock to be on the range 
of the southeast extremity of the San Jose group, the south- 
ernmost of the Linartes, and the NW. tangent of Bolano. 

"San Jose islets are a group of four wooded islets united 
by a reef. They are safe of approach except that the reef 
projects from them one-fourth mile to the eastward, and a 
2-fathom spot lies three-fourths mile to the westward. Mid- 
way between San Jose and Bolano islands is a cluster of 
islands named Linartes. 

"Palenque Island, of irregular shape, 256 feet high and 
about 1^ miles in extent, lies on the south side of Brava; Deer 
Islet, on which was the observation spot of the survej^, lies 
off the southeast point of Palenque. The shoal water which 
limits the bay trends about NE. by N. and SW. by W. from 
Deer Islet. 

" Playa Grande Bay, lying north of Juco Point and the 
chain of islands extending from the point to the Boca Chica, 
has many sunken reefs in it and has not been closely exam- 
ined. The passage south of Carre Island into the bay, nearly 
a mile wide, has 6 fathoms of water, and this depth is carried 
about three-fourths mile inside, gradually decreasing to 3 
fathoms at about 700 yards from the eastern end of the bay, 
where there is excellent shelter for a small vessel. Chuche- 
gal Bay opens from the northeastern part of Playa Grande 
and extends about li miles northeastward, to the base of Red 
Hill, but has not been sounded out or closely examined. The 


country behind the bay affords abundant pasturage for large 
herds of cattle. 

"Boca Chica, 3^ miles N. 65° W. of Juco Point, the nar- 
row channel between Ventana and Saino islands leading into 
the David River, is practicable for only light-draft vessels, 
there being in some parts of it at low tide only 8 to 10 feet of 
water. Boca Chica may be recognized by the rocks of Ven- 
tana Island, which have been pierced by the sea. Lavandera 
Rock, an isolated danger, covered at high water, lying on the 
east side of the entrance 300 yards southward of Saino, must 
be carefully guarded against, there being a depth of 5 fath- 
oms close to it on the south side. Within the entrance, at 
the east end of Brava Island, the channel expands and forms 
and anchorage called El Pozo (the well) with a depth of 6 
fathoms. The village of San Lorenzo is partly in sight at 
the western end, consisting of about a score of huts in the 
midst of orange and banana trees. 

*'Anchorage. — During the fine season there is good anchor- 
age off the Boca Chica in 5 fathoms, sheltered from the north- 
erly^ winds which have then considerable strength. Wlien 
the southwest winds prevail it is better to anchor farther out 
under shelter of the San Jose islets. 

"A more open anchorage, suitable for large vessels, is in 8 
fathoms midway between San Jose islets and the Monitas. 

"Tides. — High water, full and change, at Palenque and 
Parida anchorages is at 3h. 15m. ; springs rise lOf feet, neaps 
8 feet. During the Ohligado's visit the flood stream at the 
anchorage outside the Boca Chica was observed to set NNW,, 
and the ebb in the opposite direction, with an average strength 
of 1 mile an hour, diminishing in force toward the San Jose 
and Monitas islands. Within the entrance and in the river 
the current was much stronger. 

"Supplies.— At the village of Boca Chica or Puerto San 
Lorenzo, on the north side of the river and 3^ miles from the 
sea, cattle, poultry, eggs, fruit, and vegetables can be pro- 
cured. Water of good quality can be got from the stream 
immediately east of the village. 

"Directions. — Vessels from the westward or southward 
should pass between the Viuda and the rocks east of Bolano, 
and if from the eastward, between the Viuda and the Moni- 
tas, in either case steering for the San Jose islets on a safe 
bearing until well past Viuda. If intending to anchor off 


Boca Chica, when west of Viuda steei* for Carre Islet, and 
when one-half mile from its south point continue along the 
south side of the chain of islets to the anchorage. 

"The Ladrones are two rocky, barren islets of moderate 
height, and together not more than a mile in extent, \ymg 14 
miles S. 20° W. (S. 14° W. mag.) of the southwest point of 
Parida. They are ver3^ steep-to, with 70 fathoms close to 
their southern edge. The only known dangers are some 
rocks extending from them to the northward about 2 miles, 
and a very dangerous reef at 4 miles in the same direction 
with only G feet of water over it at low tide. As this reef is 
only shown by breakers when there is a stiff breeze, it must 
be carefully guarded against. 

"MONTUOSA ISLET,^aying 27 miles S. 25° E. (S. 31° E. mag.) 
from the Ladrones and 22 miles west of Coiba Island, the 
nearest land, rises to a height of 500 feet and has its summit 
covered with cocoa and other trees. A narrow reef, partlj' 
above water, extends from it about 3 miles in a westerlj^ 
direction, and a reef also runs off from its southeast side. 
Captain Colnett landed here in 1794 and obtained a quantity 
of cocoanuts and a few birds. He mentions that the bottom 
on the south side of the island and also th« shore near the 
sea is rocky. A sandy beach was found behind some little 
creeks that run in between the rocks, which afforded a safe 
landing place for boats. There was a great plenty of par- 
rots, doves, and iguanas, and probablj^ other refreshment. 

"Sec AS Islands are a group consisting of three principal 
islands and numerous islets and rocks, covering an extent of 
5| miles in latitute by 3 miles in longitude, and lying about 
15 miles from the coast between David Bay and Port IS^uevo. 
About and among them are no known sunken rocks the posi- 
tions of which are not usually indicated bj^ breakers. Small 
vessels msiy find good shelter here, and on some of the islands 
a landing may be effected; but no fresh water can be ob- 
tained. The best anchorage is stated to be in 10 to 12 fath- 
oms, on sand. 

«The center of Montuosa Islet, as cut in February 5, 1902, by the 
U. S. S. Concord from numerous positions of the ship obtained each 
time by not less than three cross bearings of Jicarita, Quibo, and the 
Ladrones Islands was found to be about 2i miles N. 44° E. (N. 38° E. 
mag.) of the charted position, approximately in latitude 7° 29' N., 
longitude 82° 13' 30" W. 


"La Bruja Rock, about 3 miles east of the north end of the 
largest island, is a formidable danger, especially at night. It 
is stated by some authorities to be almost awash at low water 
and b}^ others to be awash at high water, and is surrounded 
by depths of 20 to 24 fathoms. 

' ' CONTRERAS ISLANDS, a group about 14 miles southeastward 
of the Secas and 9| miles north of Coiba, composed of two 
principal islands with many small islets and rocks, are unin- 
habited and have no good anchorage. Vessels may approach 
these islands without hesitation if due precaution be taken, 
as the depths near them are from 30 to 40 fathoms and it is 
believed that there are no sunken dangers among them that 
are not marked by breakers. 

"Prosper Rock, so named from the wreck of Le Prosper e, 
a French ship that was drifted onto it in a calm, lies about 
1^ miles south of the southern island and has the appearance 
of a black tower. A reef which uncovers at low water of 
spring tides extends from it about 200 yards in a south- 
westerly direction. It is not safe to pass between Prosper 
Rock and the islands on account of a reef midway in the 
channel, which is partly dry at low water. 

"Coast. — At 1^ miles east of Juco Point the coast turns 
northward for 3| miles to the mouth of San Lorenzo River, 
and thence trends S. 77° E. for 20 miles to Espartal Island, 
at the mouth, of the river of Pueblo N^uevo. Nearly all this 
shore is low and fronted by a sandy strand; the entrances of 
the various rivers are barred and can usually be recognized 
by the white trunks of the mangrove trees, the tops only 
being in leaf. About a dozen miles inland is a range of hills 
between which and the sea is a wooded plain. 

"There are no known sunken dangers along this coast, 
and vessels may skirt it at a distance of 2 to 3 miles in sound- 
ings of 6 to 11 fathoms. Some cliffs of red color eastward of 
San Lorenzo River and ending at about 13 miles from Pueblo 
Nuevo are very conspicuous. 

"Venado Islands, on the east side of Juco Point, consist- 
ing of one large island near the point and three small ones 
on a bank about a mile to the eastward, are said to be a good 
mark for vessels approaching from the eastward. 

" San Lorenzo Bay, formed by the bend in the coast east 
of Juco Point, is so thickly strewn with rocks that all vessels 
should avoid entering it, and for the same reason the river 


can be approached only in boats. A considerable village lies 
on the San Lorenzo River, a few miles from the sea. 

" Port Nuevo lies jnst within the southern mouth of the 
Pueblo Nuevo River, now charted as Rio San Lucia, or 
Remedios. The entrance, which is south of Silva and Inso- 
lita islands, from whatever direction approached may be at 
once recognized by the peculiar formation of the Cayado 
Hills, which rise to heights of 300 and 400 feet from the nar- 
row peninsula forming the south side of the port, and from a 
distance appear as two islets. Sugarloaf Hill, 540 feet high, 
standing close to the shore near Espartal Island, is a good 
mark for the port, as are also the two wooded Islets, Silva de 
Tierra and Silva de Afuera, distant, respectively, li and 4^ 
miles westward from Entrada Point. 

" Espartal and Insolita, two large marsh}^ mangrove islands 
made of the soil brought down by the floods, front the coast 
for a distance of 7 miles, forming the river delta. The Boca 
de Santiago, between the two islands, although the direct 
entrance to the river, is navigable only by boats and at high 
tide, being obstructed by shoals through which, in 1899, there 
was no channel; the narrow passage north of Espartal is also 

"From Aguda Point, the south end of Insolita, the Belitre 
Bank, partially dry at low water, extends li miles westward 
along the north side of the channel, ending opposite Entrada 
Point, and forms a natural breakwater for the port. The 
rocky islet Intrusa, steep and safe of approach on all sides, 
lies nearly in mid-channel between Aguda Point and the 
south shore. Robalo Island, three-fourths mile northeast- 
w^ard of Aguda Point, is abont three-eighths mile in extent, 
with a channel on either side, a mud bank extending from it 
about the same distance to the southw^ard. Numerous rocks 
are reported in the eastern channel, that on the Insolita side, 
though narrower, being the one recommended for use. 

"Opposite the north end of Robalo is Dedo Point, from 
which the three remarkable Dedo (finger) hills, about 1,500 
feet high, extend in a northeasterly direction, the line of the 
hills passing through Entrada Point. Herron Islet lies on 
the east bank of the river, opposite the south end of Robalo 
and three-eighths mile above La Tinta Cove. The south 
and east shores of the port are bordered by shoal w^ater 
to a distance of one-fourth mile. Point Arenitas is at the 


north end of Insolita, and 1^ miles above is Rocky Point, 
which marks the real mouth of the river. Just within the 
rivers Jacobe and Santiago enter the San Lucia from the 

"The bay is inhabited by a few Indians in ranchos or huts 
scattered along the beach, and there are said to be a number 
of small villages on the numerous streams that fall into the 
river, but by far the largest is that which gives to the river 
its name. San Juan Enfrente, a cattle corral and clearing, 
is on the right bank of the San Lucia, 2J miles above Rocky 

"Some eggs, fowl, vegetables, and fruit may be obtained. 
Belcher states that water can not be procured in any quantity, 
but Captain de Rosencoat, of the Ohligado, says that good 
water may be procured from a brook w^hich falls into the 
small bay on the east side of Cape Cay ado (Entrada Point). 

"The Channel, according to the survej^ of 1854, supple- 
mented by an examination in 1900 bj^Mr. J. A. Rupert Jones, 
of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, carries a low- water 
depth of 6 to 8 fathoms as far as Intrusa Islet, the width north 
of Entrada Point being about 400 yards and increasing within 
to about 750 yards near the islet. Farther in the depth is 
quite irregular, but 4 fathoms at low water may be carried 
more than a mile, probably 3 fathoms to Rocky Point, north 
of Insolita, and 1 fathom a considerable distance farther up 
the San Lucia. 

"The anchorage selected by the French survejang vessel 
Ohligado in 1854 was immediatelj^ southward of Intrusa, 
with the islet in range with the south end of Insolita. East- 
ward of this the channel expands considerably, but there are 
several isolated shoal spots, 2^ and 3 fathoms, restricting the 
anchorage space and making it inconvenient for large ves- 
sels. To a draft of less than 16 feet it offers the advantage 
of ample space, with protection from all winds. A few small 
buoys to mark the shoal spots and the ends of the shoals 
would greatly increase its usefulness for large vessels. Excel- 
lent ranges are afforded by Intrusa Islet with Entrada Point 
and the two Silvas. 

"Westerly winds, frequent from June to October, are said 
by the inhabitants to send occasionallj^ into the river a very 
heavy sea, which causes considerable inconvenience to ves- 
sels anchored near Intrusa. At such times it will be advis- 
able to run to the inner anchorage. 


"Tides. — lligli water, full and change, at Port Nuevo is 
at 3 h. 44 m., rise of tide about 10 feet; at San Juan Enf rente 
at 4 h. 30 m. ; rise 12 to 16 feet. 

"Pueblo Nuevo Village, now Los Remedios, is said to 
be at some distance within the riv^er, north of Insolita Island, 
and the passage up to it so intricate that it can only be found 
by native guidance. Provisions are said to be obtainable 
here in considerable quantities. The principal article of 
trade is the sarsaparilla, that of this neighborhood being 
esteemed of a superior quality. A venomous species of ser- 
pent, the bite of which is fatal, is numerous on the mainland 
and on the islands. 

"Directions. — To carry 6 fathoms, the best water, into 
the port the entrance should be approached on a north course, 
keeping from one-fourth to one-half mile from the shore just 
below Entrada Point, in order to avoid the shoal water west- 
ward of the point and the bank with 4 to 5 fathoms extend- 
ing southeastward from Silva de Tierra. When Intrusa Islet 
opens from the point, steer for the islet, passing close to the 
point, and when within steer to pass southward of Intrusa to 
the inner anchorage, or anchor in 9 fathoms, fine sandy bot- 
tom, on the range of Intrusa and Aguda Point. Entrada 
Point, in line with the north end of Silva de Afuera, leads 
through the narrowest part of the channel between Belitre 
Bank and the shoal water to the southward. 

" From Aguda Point about a mid-channel course leads up 
the river as far as Rocky Point, above which the channel 
passes between wide shoal banks on either hand and ascends 
the western stream. 

"The best time to enter the river is with the flood stream 
and the wind from seaward; and to leave the river, with the 
land wind and a little before the end of the flood. Vessels 
must pass south of Silva de Tierra, but may pass between the 
two Silvas, the depth here being from 8 to 12 fathoms. By 
entering at the first of the flood the edges of the banks are 
plainly seen. 

"Coast. — From Port Nuevo the coast has a general trend 
of S. 30° E. for 23 miles to the entrance of Bahia Honda and 
is quite irregular in outline, being intersected by several 
rivers and indented by a number of small bays, of which the 
principal are Pajaros, Rosario, and Monita, all of them open 
and exposed to winds from the westward. About 3f miles 


southward of Entrada Point is the Tavasera River, which has 
no bar at its mouth, a channel with from 2 to 3 fathoms lead- 
ing in to an anchorage ground of considerable extent, with a 
depth of only 1 to 4 fathoms. Negro Bluff, west of the 
entrance, is at the southwest end of a round-shaped peninsula 
about a mile in diameter, occupied by a low hill of gradual 
ascent and connected with the northern shore by a very nar- 
row neck. Between the Cayado Peninsula and Negro Bluff 
the coast recedes considerably, forming an open bay, which 
appears to be free from danger, with 3 to 4 fathoms at one- 
fourth of a mile from the low shore. The Nueces Rocks lie 
at the northern end of this bay, the entire group lying within 
one-fourth mile of the beach. 

"Below the Tavasera River the coast is fronted for a dis- 
tance of 8 miles by a long sandy shelf, called the ' Playa Brava,' 
extending from 1 to 2 miles from the low shore, with depths 
of 1 and 2 fathoms, and covering in the southern part the 
mouth of Lavenia River, 7 miles from the Tavasera. This 
bank is steep-to, and should be approached with care, keep- 
ing outside the 10-fathom line. 

"Pajaros Bay, about 2 miles south of the Lavenia River, 
between Pajaros and Muertos points, is about a mile in width 
and depth, with from 16 to 18 fathoms of water. Rosario 
Ba3', separated from Pajaros by a narrow peninsula ending 
in Muertos Point, is recognizable by the isolated pointed hill 
terminating this point, and by a small round islet, called 
* Muela,' in the middle of the bay, about a mile from the shore. 
Rosario Point projects into the bay at its middle, dividing it 
into two parts, the southern of which is called Pivay Bay. A 
stream discharges at the head of each bay. 

" Gorda Point, of blunt shape and 2 miles broad, separates 
Pivay from Monita Bay, which is so named from a wooded 
islet in its northern part near the shore. Ventana Point, 
limiting Monita Bay on the south, is 1 mile north of Roble 
Point, which fronts the north side of Medidor Island and is 
2| miles from-the entrance to Bahia Honda. 

" These bays, being open to the westward, afford anchorage 
only in the fine season. In each bay are found a few Indian 
families, who live by hunting and fishing. 

"Medidor Island, of irregular shape and moderate height, 
about 1^ miles long and five-eighths of a mile in average 
width, lies about 2 miles northwestward of the entrance to 
' -1 


Baliia Honda, and is separated from the coast by a narrow 
and rock}^ channel less than one-fonrth mile wide, which is 
not recommended for nse. Pacora or Truclia Islet, lying 
three-eighths mile south of Medidor, is about one-fourth mile 
long and 100 yards wide. A reef extends about two-thirds 
across the passage, leaving a narrow channel between its end 
and the islet, with a depth of 24 fathoms. Both Medidor and 
Pacora appear to be bold and steep-to, the water being from 
20 to 30 fathoms deej) in their vicinity, but should not be 
approached too closely on the northern and western sides on 
account of the deficiency of soundings. 

"Bahia Honda (deep bay), lying 14 miles northeast of the 
north end of Coiba Island and 23 miles NW. by W. from Zur- 
ron Point, the west end of Cebaco, is an excellent harbor for 
vessels of the largest size, being deep, safe, capacious, and 
very easy of access. The entrance, between Guarida Point 
and Sentinela Island, is seven-eighths mile wide, and the 
harbor within is 2 miles long and wide, exclusive of the 
extensive mud flats in the eastern part of the hiij, deep water 
lying in general close to the shores, which, as a rule, are clean 
and safe of approach. 

" Guarida, the north entrance point, is bold and clean, and 
maj^ be approached close-to, there being 20 fathoms of water 
at from 100 to 200 yards. 

"Sentinela Island, forming the south entrance point, 
lies seven-eighths of a mile south of Guarida Point. It is small 
and surrounded by rocks, which, on the south, extend as far 
as Cono Islet. A detached reef lies about 400 yards to the 
northeastward. Sentinela and Cono are separated from Cape 
Jabali by a narrow rocky channel, with rocks on both sides 
and practicable only for boats. 

"Between Guarida Point and Sentinela Island the depths 
are from 20 to 25 fathoms for almost the entire width of the 
channel, which is clear and free from dangers, except the 
rocks and reefs close to the island. Within the entrance the 
depths decrease gradually to 10 and 12 fathoms at 1^ miles. 

"Talon Island, lying about 1^ miles within the harbor 
and opposite the entrance, is about five-eighths of a mile 
long, north and south, and 120 feet high. Two small islets, 
Pueril and Espuela, lie respectively off the western and the 
southern point of Talon, and from the former islet a shoal 
and reef extend northwestward about one-fourth of a mile. 


Talon Island separates the harbor into two anchorages, 
Chinche Bay to the westward and Legamo Bay to the east- 
ward, the former being much the largei*. On the northeast 
side of the island a narrow channel connects the two bays. 

"Chinche Islet is round and wooded, and lies in the 
northern part of Chinche Bay, about 600 yards from the 
shore; it is clean and safe of approach on all sides, with 10 
and 11 fathoms close-to, to the southward. 

"Anchorage may be had in any part of the harbor, but the 
best berth for large vessels is in Chinche Bay south of the 
islet, in from 10 to 14 fathoms, mud bottom, sheltered from 
all winds. The only dangers in this locality are a rock cov- 
ered bj^ 8 feet of water about one-fourth of a mile northward 
of Guarida Point, and the reef lying 300 yards northwestward 
of Pueril Islet. Legamo Bay is clean, with an anchorage ex- 
tent of three-eighths of a mile and depth of 5 to 7 fathoms, 
completely sheltered by Talon Island. 

"Tides. — High water, full and change, is at 3h. 10m. 
Springs rise llf feet, neaps 8f feet. The tidal streams run 
from one half knot to 1 knot an hour. 

"Supplies. — Vegetables and fruit are onlj^ obtainable in 
very small quantities. Water can be procured near a vil- 
lage on the southeast side of the bay; a boat can anchor 
here in calm weather and fill with a hose. Very good water 
may also be procured from a cascade outside the harbor on 
the north shore, at 1| miles from Guarida Point. The water 
falls upon a rock, which affords facilities for fixing a hose. 

"Captain de Rosencoat states that the Indians are expert 
turtle catchers and will furnish a large quantity daily. Fish 
were abundant. 

" Directions. — The entrance of the bay does not make out 
well at a distance, but its location is so plainl}^ marked by the 
islands Af uera, Medidor, and Pacora that it is readily found. 
After making out Afuera in mid- channel, Medidor will be 
seen and should be steered for until Pacora is made out or 
the entrance is opened. Then steer for Guarida Point, which 
may be ranged close-to, and when past it head for Chinche 
Islet and anchor in 11 to 11: fathoms, mud bottom, sheltered 
from every wind. The best time to leave the harbor with a 
sailing vessel is in the morning, when the winds that precede 
the sea breeze come from NE. to E. These are sometimes 
so light that the boats must be used to tow out. The channel 


between Medidor and the coast and that between Medidor 
and Pacora should not be used. 

"Afuera Island lies about midway between the north 
end of Coiba and the mainland, the channel being 13^ .miles 
wide. The island may be passed on either side, the only 
danger being a reef extending from its southeast point about 
400 yards ; at its extremity is a black rock almost covered at 
high tide. Afuerita Islet nearly touches the northwestern 
end of Afuera. 

"Coiba or Quibo is the largest island off the coast, being 
21 miles long, NW. and SE., with a width varying from 4 to 
12 miles, and of moderate elevation. It is covered with for- 
ests and a dense and tangled tropical vegetation. The inte- 
rior is said to consist of fine plains covered with magnificent 
forests, as yet untouched. In all parts there is abundance 
of good water. Around its shores are numerous anchorages, 
but no harbor in which a vessel may find protection from all 

"The western shore is bold, with deep water close- to and 
clear of dangers not in close proximity to the shore. Her- 
mosa Point is the northwest extreme of the island, and has 
deep water close outside the rocks and islets off it; eastward 
of it is Hermosa Bay, open to the northwestward, with a sandy 
beach at its head. It has not been sounded out, but has 20 
and 14 fathoms in the entrance. 

"Off the southern coast are several dangers, requiring 
caution in approaching this side of the island. A shoal 
nearly a mile in width extends about 5 miles along the shore 
from Negada Point, tlie southeast extremity of the island to 
Racimo Point. Hill Bock, a dangerous detached shoal with 
6 feet of water over it, lies at 2^ miles from the shore, nearly 
south of Racimo Point, and 5^ miles S. 64" W. of Negada. 
Several shoal spots of 4 to 5 fathoms lie at 1^ and 2 miles 
southwestward of Negada Point, with deeper water inshore. 
Barca Islet is a little over one-half mile southwestward of 
Racimo Point. Passage Rocks, a group above water, are 
about 2 miles west of Barca, and Logan Rock, also above 
water, lies about a mile northwest of the former, with sound- 
ings of 6 to 9 fathoms between them and the coast. 

"Damas Bay, on the eastern side of Coiba, 6 miles north- 
west of Negada Point, is the principal anchorage. The bay 
is about 7 miles wide at the entrance between Fea and Clara 

:N0TES on PANAMA. 101 

points, and penetrates 4 miles. At its head is a broad sand}^ 
flat, through which flows a small stream, the San Juan. 
There is good anchorage in any part of the bay, the depths 
graduall}^ decreasing from 30 fathoms in the entrance to 10 
and 12 fathoms within one-fourth mile of the flats at the 
head, Avhich, on account of the considerable rise and fall of 
the tide, must not be approached too closely. Off the south- 
ern shore, between Fea and Observatory points, rocky shoals 
extend out about a mile and are steep-to, with 10 to 12 fath- 
oms close to their edges. A narrow recess in the reefs here, 
with 5 to 8 fathoms of water, might with care afford protec- 
tion from the SE. to a small vessel. From Fea Point to 
Kegada Point shoal water extends one-half mile from the 
shore, and from Clara Point, for a stretch of 2 miles to the 
northward, a shoal extends nearly a mile from shore. 

"Tides. — High water, full and change, is at 3h. 10m.; 
springs rise about 12 feet. The ebb and flow are regular. 

"Supplies. — No fruit or vegetables are procurable; tur- 
tles abound, but are hard to catch; crabs, cockles, and oysters 
are plentiful. In the woods monkeys and parrots abound, 
and in Anson's time there were deer; but the interior is 
nearly inaccessible from the steepness of the cliffs and the 
tangled vegetation. Explorers should beware of alligators 
and snakes. 

"Arena Bay. — At Job Point, 2^ miles north of Clara Point, 
the coast turns due west for 2 miles and then again to the 
northAvard, forming Arena Bay, in which the depth is con- 
venient for anchoring over a large area, the depth at 2 miles 
from the shore being only 20 fathoms. At the head of the 
bay a sandy flat extends out one-half mile, and through it 
flows the Juncal River, which would appear to be the remark- 
able cascade described in the account of Anson's vo^^age. 
Pesado Rocks lie in the northern part of the bay, 3^ miles 
from Job Point and three-fourths mile from the shore, and 
north of these, about a mile offshore, are the Cocos Islands; 
outside of these rocks and islands there appear to be no 

"Baltasar Head, the north extreme of the island, 7i 
miles N. 34° W. from Job Point, is a bold headland with deep 
water close-to. The channel between it and the Contreras 
group has soundings of 40 to 64 fathoms and no dangers ex- 
cept Prosper Rock. 


" Remarks. — The following- interesting description of Coiba 
Island is found in the account of Loi'd Anson's voyage around 
the worhl, by Richard Walter, the chaplain, published in 1776, 
thirty years after the voyage. It would seem that the island 
has changed but little ui3 to the present day. The anchoring 
place at the Centurion was in Damas Bay. 

*'The island of Coiba is extremely convenient for wooding 
and watering, since the trees grow close to the high-water 
mark and a large, rapid stream of fresh water runs over the 
sandy beach into the sea, so that we were little more than 
two days in laying in all the wood and water we wanted. 
The whole island is of a very moderate height, excepting one 
part. It consists of a continued wood , spread all over the whole 
surface of the country, which preserves its verdure the year 
round. Among the other wood we found there abundance 
of cassia and a few lime trees. It appeared singular to us 
that, considering the climate and the shelter, we should see 
no other birds than parrots, paroquets, and macaws. Indeed, 
of these last there were prodigious flights. N^ext to these 
birds, the animals we found in most plenty were monkeys 
and iguanas, and these we frequently killed for food, for, 
notwithstanding there were many herds of deer upon the 
place, the difficulty of penetrating the woods prevented our 
coming near them, so that, though we saw them often, we 
killed only two during our stay. Our prisoners assured us 
that this island abounded in tigers, and we did once discover 
the print of a tiger's claw upon the beach, but the tigers 
themselves we never saw. The Spaniards, too, informed us 
that there was frequently found in the woods a most mis- 
chievous serpent called the flying snake, which, they said, 
darted itself from the boughs of trees on either man or beast 
that came within its reach, and whose sting they believed to be 
inevitable death. Besides these dangerous land animals, the 
sea hereabouts is infested with great numbers of alligators of 
an extraordinary size; and we often observed a large kind of 
flat fish, jumping a considerable height out of the water, 
which we supposed to be the fish that is said frequently to 
destroy the pearl divers by clasping them in its fins as they 
rise from the bottom; and we were told that the divers, for 
their security, are now always armed with a sharp knife, 
which, Avhen they are entangled, they stick into the belly of 
the fish and thereby disengage themselves from its embraces. 


" While the ship continued here at anchor, the commo- 
dore, attended by some of his officers, went in a boat to ex- 
amine a bay which lay to the northward ; and they afterwards 
ranged all along the eastern side of the island, and in the 
places where they put on shore, in the course of this expedi- 
tion, they generally found the soil to be extremely rich and 
met with great plenty of excellent water. In particular, near 
the northeast point of the island they discovered a natural 
cascade, which surpassed, as they conceived, everything of 
this kind which human art or industry has hitherto produced. 
It was a river of transparent water, about 40 yards wide, 
which rolled down a declivity of near 150 j^ards in length. 
The channel it fell in was very irregular, for it was entirely 
composed of rocks, both its sides and bottom being made up 
of large detached blocks, and by these the course of the 
water was frequently interrupted, for in some parts it ran 
sloping with a rapid but uniform motion, while in others it 
tumbled over the ledges of rocks with a perpendicular descent. 
All the neighborhood of this stream was a fine wood, and even 
the huge masses of rock which overhung the water, and which 
by their various projections formed the inequalities of the 
channel, were covered with lofty forest trees. 

''Rancheria or Quibito is a small island, 1| miles by 
three-fourths mile in extent, lying 2 miles east of Baltasar 
Head, the north end of Coiba. The channel between the two 
islands is 1^ miles wide, with soundings of 8 to 14 fathoms, 
and appears to be safe b}^ keeping near the shore of Coiba 
and just outside the Cocos Islands. On account of the 
numerous rocks and uneven bottom, however, it is not rec- 
ommended for use. Don Juan Rock, above water, lies nearly 
in midchannel. Aaron Rocks, a group of islets about a mile 
northwestward of Rancheria and IJ miles northeastward of 
Baltasar Head, are the outermost dangers in this vicinity. 

"There is good anchorage south-southeast of Rancheria, 
opposite a sandy beach whence wood and water can be easily 
procured from the island. Some shelter is furnished by a 
high round islet. A Frenchman named Sorget was resident 
on Rancheria in 1847. 

"JiCARON Island, 4 miles south of Coiba, is of triangular 
form, 3f miles long north and south, and well wooded; its 
highest point, 830 feet high, is on the east side, and the most 
extensive lookout, says Captain Colnett, is from the tojo of 


this island, for it commands Coiba and the whole of the coast 
and bay to the northward. David Point, the northeast ex- 
treme, is clear and safe of approach, with deep water close -to 
Around the northwest extreme are numerous rocks and reefs, 
foul ground extending off three-fourths of a mile. A small 
group of rocks above water lies If miles N. 70° W. of Ursula 
Point, the south extreme of the island, and 1^ miles offshore, 
closely surrounded by depths of 23 to 27 fathoms. About 
one-fourth of a mile south of Ursula Point is Jicarita Islet, 
1^ miles long and covered with cocoa i3alms. 

"West Coast — Jicaron Island— Corrected Height. — 
The officer in charge of the Branch Hydrographic Office, San 
Francisco, Cal., reports that the master of the steamer San 
Juan, Captain Afredberry, states that as the result of obser- 
vations on four consecutive voyages between San Francisco 
and Panama he finds the height of Jicaron Island (4 miles 
south of Coiba (Quibo) Island) to be (approximately) 1,400 
feet instead of 830 feet, as given on the chart. 

" The channel between Jicaron and Coiba is practicable, 
but of very irregular depth, the best water, not less than 11 
fathoms, being nearer Jicaron. Hill Rock, the principal 
danger in the approaches, lies 5^ miles east of David Point. 

"Coast. — From Bahia Honda the coast trends S. 68° E. 
for 20^ miles to Brava Point, at the entrance of Monti jo Bay, 
and is rugged, Avith several islets and rocks off it. At 2 miles 
from the land the soundings are 35 to 27 fathoms until the 
vicinity of the point is reached. Lorenzo Bay, about 5 miles 
westward of the point, is of considerable extent, but appar- 
ently foul, and has not been closel}^ examined. In running 
from one bay to the other the coast should have a berth of 
not less than 3 miles. 

"MoNTiJO Bay extends northward about 14 miles, with an 
average breadth of 9 miles, and is fronted and nearly inclosed 
by Che two islands, Cebaco and Gobernador, which lie in the 
entrance. Within the bay, near its head, is Leones Island, 
between which and the north side of Cebaco, a distance of 8 
miles, is a continuous shoal with a depth of 2 fathoms, which 
occupies a large part of the area of the bay and leaves on 
either side but a narrow channel. Opposite Leones Island, 
on both sides of the bay, are several small streams accessible 
on\y hy boat. The bay is of little value to shipping and sel- 
dom visited on account of the shoals and ver}^ irregular 
soundings. A closer examination or survey Avouid make its 


use quite practicable for steamers and afford to tliem a safe 
and sheltered harbor. 

"Cebaco Island is of irregular shape, 13^ miles long, ENE. 
and WSW., and 3 miles wide at its eastern end, the broadest 
part. Some detached rocks lie immediately south of its west- 
ern end, and a sunken rock lies about a mile from its eastern 
point, leaving no safe channel between. When entering the 
bay by this, the east, cliannel, it is necessary on account of 
this sunken rock to keep nearer to the main than to the 
island, the dei)ths being 12 to 10 fathoms; steer then for San 
Juan Rock, distant about 1| miles from the land, until a 2- 
fathom spot in mid-channel 1^ miles southward of the rock 
and in line with the east point of Cebaco is passed, and then 
steer to pass the rock on its west side at about three-fourths 
of a mile in 1 fathoms; hence, to the east side of Leones 
Island the course is about north (N. 6° W. mae:.), westward 
of several rocks lying offshore, in soundings of 6, 7, and 9 

" GOBERNADOR ISLAND, between the west end of Cebaco 
and the main, is about 2^ by 1^ miles in extent, and divides 
the western entrance to the bay into two channels, either of 
which is practicable, but the northern preferable because 
wider and less exposed to the strong outward current from 
the bay. The depth in the southern channel is 9 to 6 
fathoms and in the northern 16 to 6 fathoms. There is good 
shelter for vessels of light draft under the west shore of 
the bay, which is easily reached. The banks throughout the 
bay are steep and require careful attention to the lead ; ves- 
sels should not go bej^ond 1 fathoms. 

"DuARTis Point, the eastern entrance point of Monti jo 
Bay, lies 6 miles southeastward of Cebaco. Foul ground ex- 
tends from it nearly 2 miles to the eastward. 

"The coast south of Duartis Point is low and indented by 
two large bays, with a small stream at the head of each. The 
Quebra Islets, 6 miles below the point, extend to the west- 
ward about 1:^ miles from the bluff projection of the coast 
separating the two bays. Vessels should keep at least 2 
miles from this stretch of coast, as it has not been closely 

"At 11 miles south of Diiartis is a bluff headland, and one- 
half mile off it is the rocky but wooded islet Naranjas, Avhich 
is steep, with deep water close outside. 

"MARL4T0 Point, 5 miles SE. of Naranjas Islet and 55 


miles east (N. 84° E. mag.) from the south extremity of Jica- 
rita, is a bold headland marking a sliarp turn of the coast. 
It is the beginning of the range of high coast land which ter- 
minates at Morro Puercos. 

"Landfall. — Mariato Point is a good landfall for vessels 
bound to Panama from the westward, as by keeping under 
the land to the eastward of the point the}^ avoid the southerly 
set-out of the gulf. 

"Morro Puercos, 27 miles east of Mariato Point, is a lofty 
headland forming the termination of the range of high coast 
land. The water off this coast is deep close to the rocks for 
two-thirds of the distance, with 100 fathoms within 2 miles of 
the shore. Nearer Puercos Point the 20-fathom line is about 
2 miles from shore. About 4 miles westward of the point 
and 1 mile from the shore is a reef above water; and 2 miles 
northeastward of the point, 1^ miles from shore, is a 3-fathom 
patch. The chart shows a 5-fathom spot, with 14 fathoms 
close-to, at 3^ miles S. 75° E. (S. 81° E. mag.) from the point. 

"Coast. — From Puercos Point to Guanico Point, 7 miles 
to the northeastward, the coast curves in a double bight, and 
thence in a larger bight to Raia Point, off which, at one-half 
of a mile, are the Yenado Islet and reef. The Tomosi River 
is nearly 3 miles northward of Guanico Point, and about the 
same distance beyond the river, at the head of the bight, is a 
patch of rocks at a short distance from the shore. About 2 
miles westward of Raia Point is the Juera River, mentioned 
in Findlay as accessible, according to native report, for vessels 
of any draft, having 10 or 12 fathoms depth, and affording a 
supply of fresh water. 

"From Guanico Point to Cape Mala, 23 miles N. 66° E. of 
the point, the coast is low and along it the depths are 

"North and South Frailes are two low, barren, flat 
topped islets, of which the southern lies llf miles S. 46° W. 
(S. 40° W. mag.) from Cape Mala, and the northern 2^ miles 
N. 28° W. (N. 34° W. mag.) from the southern. A reef 
extends about 200 yards off the northwest point of the south- 
ern islet, but with this exception they are steep-to and clear 
of outlying dangers, witli 20 to 30 fathoms within one-half of 
a mile of the rocks. Although a good mark for Cape Mala in 
clear weather, at night or in the thick, squally weather of this 
coast they are dangerous to vessels keeping under the land 


westward of Mala to avoid the current, as the lead gives no 
warning of their proximity. At such times they should be 
given a wide berth. 


Variation in 1902. 
Cape Mala 5° 41' E. | Pinas Point. 4° 58 E. 

"General description. — Cape Mala on the west and 
Pinas Point on the east may be considered the limits of the 
Gulf of Panama. The line between these points, running 
nearly east and west, is 105 miles long, and within this line 
the gulf extends to the northward 92 miles, with the bay and 
city of Panama at its head. Between the entrance points 
the 100-fathom line curves slightly to the northward, the 
depths outside increasing rapidly to 1,000 and 2,000 fathoms, 
while within they decrease gradually to the head. The Pearl 
islands are entirely within the 50-fatliom line. 

"The Isthmus of Panama, which encircles the gulf, is the 
narrow neck of land connecting the continents of North and 
South America; in a restricted sense the name is applied to 
the narrow crossing between Panama and Colon, the two 
other narrowest crossings being distinguished as the Isthmus 
of San Bias and the Isthmus of Darien; the widths of the 
Isthmus at these points, in the order here given, are, respec- 
tively, 31, 27, and 32 miles, the last distance being measured 
from the head of deep-water navigation at the mouth of the 
Savannah River in Darien Harbor. 

"The whole Isthmus is comprised in the Department of 
Panama of the Republic of Colombia, this department ex- 
tending from the Costa Rican boundary to the Department 
of Cauca. All the departments of Colombia, except Panama, 
are included in South America. The total population of 
Panama in 1881 was 285,000 persons. 

"Climate. — The geographical position of the Isthmus of 
Panama, the absence of high mountains, and the vast extent 
of forests and other uncultivated parts tend to produce a hot 
and rainy climate, which, nevertheless, with the exception of 
a few localities, asChagres, Colon, and Portobelo, is said tobe 
healthj^ and more favorable to Europeans than that of most 
tropical countries. Diseases of the digestive and integumen- 
tary systems are common, and malarial fevers, often of a 
most pernicious type, prevail throughout the year. The rainy 


season is the most unhealthy, especially at its end, wlien the 
weather is changing. Yellow fever has prevailed at times in 
an epidemic form. On board ship Panama is the most 
healthy place on the coast of Central America. Vessels of war 
have remained here many months at a time, their crews con- 
tinuing in a healthy state 

"The wet season begins in May and lasts till November. 
The rains gradually increase until the season is fairly estab- 
lished in June, and continue through Jul}^ August, and Sep- 
tember, with strong southerly winds. In December the rains 
cease; the NW. and NNW. winds set in, jDroducing an imme- 
diate change. During the dry season regular land and sea 
breezes blow. The sea breeze sets in about 10.30 a. m. from 
SSW., generallj- increases in force until about 3.30 p. m., then 
graduallj' subsides, and at sunset is followed by a calm. 

"About the end of June the rains are suspended for a short 
time, the occurrence of this phenomenon being so regular as 
to receive the name of Yeranito de San Juan. The average 
temperature of the year is very high. 

" Winds. — The navigation of the approaches to the Gulf of 
Panama is for a sailing vessel one of the most tedious, uncer- 
tain, and vexatious undertakings known to the seaman. 
Between Cape Corrientes (latitude 5° 30' N.) and Panama the 
prevalent winds are from the northward and westward, Avitli 
frequent squalls from the SW. between the months of June 
and December. In the Gulf of Panama the winds are regu- 
lated by the seasons; the prevalent wind, however, is from 
the northward. In the fine season, commencing in December, 
the winds are regular and constant, bringing fine, drj^ 
weather. To the southward of the gulf they blow much 
harder, and off the coast of Yeragua ^' a double-reef topsail 
breeze in Januarj^ and February is not uncommon. In April 
and May the northerly winds are less regular and have more 
westings in them, with calms, light sea and land breezes, and 
occasional squalls from the southwestward. In June the 
rainy season sets in and the souther 1}^ winds become stronger ; 
still the northwest wind is mostly found after noon, and ves- 
sels sailing from Panama will generally have at all seasons a 
fair wind until south of Cape Mala. 

"Between the Galapagos Islands and the coast, westward 

« Province of the Department of Panama lying between the Isthmus 
of Panama and the Isthmus of Chiriqui. 



of the meridian of 80° W. and south of the parallel of 5° N., 
the winds are between south and west all the year round, 
and, except between the months of February and June, they 
are of sufficient strength and duration to make navigation 
easy; but northward of latitude 5° N. and between 80° W. 
and 110° W. is a region of calms and doldrums, accompanied 
by rains and squalls. 

"Currents. — The Gulf of Panama is subject to irregular 
currents, partly caused by the formation of the land and 
partly influenced by the Peruvian and Mexican streams, ac- 
cording to the varying strength of each. Malpelo Island, 
which lies about 230 miles S. 25° W. of Cape Mala, is surrounded 
by strong and rapid currents. These have been observed to set 
in opposite directions, sometimes to the NE. and sometimes 
to the SW. A stead}^ current has been found to set to the 
northward after passing Cape San Lorenzo, at the rate of 24 
to 36 miles per day, extending offshore about 60 miles. This 
stream runs along the coast, following the direction of the 
land, enters and makes a complete circuit of the Gulf and the 
Bay of Panama, and then sets with considerable force, espe- 
cially in the dry season, to the southward down the western 
side of the gulf. After passing Cape Mala it meets the Mex- 
ican current from the WNW., causing tide rips, eddies, and 
the short, chopp}^ sea met with at the entrance to the gulf. 

"West Coast. — Cape Mala, which forms the western 
point of entrance to the Gulf of Panama, is a low but cliff}^ 
point with outlying rocky ledges, having deep water close to 
them. The land from the NW. slopes gradually down to the 
sea at this point from a considerable distance, making the 
exact cape difficult to distinguish unless the breakers are 
seen. On opening the gulf around this cape a strong south- 
erly set is generally experienced, especially in the dry season. 

"Iguana Island, lying about 9 miles to the northward of 
Cape Mala, is a little higher than the adjacent coast, and thus 
forms a conspicuous object. A ledge extends about 600 yards 
from its south point, and the chart indicates a reef as extend- 
ing about 2 miles ENE. from its east point; also, in 1858, a 
reef was reported to stretch to the NNE. from its north point; 
but otherwise the island is sleep-to, with 15 fathoms in the 
channel of about 1 mile in width between it and the main. 

"Tides. — High water, full and change, at Iguana Island is 
at 4h. ; springs rise 15 feet. The flood sets to the northward 


and the ebb to tlie southeast, the latter being considerably 
the stronger, especially between the months of December 
and June. 

'^Parita Bay, nearly 20 miles wide and open to the east- 
ward, lies within Lisa and Antoine points, the former point 
being 38 miles NW. of Cape Mala and the latter 40 miles 
SW. of Chame Point. From the cape to Lisa Point the shore 
is a hard bank with sandy beach in front; at the point mud 
flats begin and extend around the western side of the bay, 
the coast being a low mangrove shore, intersected by the 
mouths of no less than five small rivers; the land to the west- 
ward is also low, with several hummocks. The coast between 
the bay and Chame Point is a continuous beach, named Playa 
Grande, in front of a low wooded bank. There is a depth of 
4 and 5 fathoms about 2 miles off this beach, except S. 22° E. 
(S. 27° E. mag.) of the Cerro Chame, where there is only 
about 4 fathoms at nearly 7 miles from the land, the bank 
extending from here to Chame Point. 

"Otoqueand Bona Islands, with Estiva Islet and Re- 
dondo Rock, lying 6 miles southeastward of Chame Point, 
form a group similar but smaller than Taboga and Tabo- 
guilla, being cultivated and having a considerable village, 
named La Goleta, in the bay on the western side of Otoque. 
Otoque and Bona are high and peaked, and form good land- 
marks for vessels entering this side of the bay. Anchorage 
in from 10 to 14 fathoms may be found in any part of the 
group, and all dangers are above water. 

" Chame Bay, at the head of which is a small river of the 
same name, is nearly filled with large mud banks, the largest, 
the Cabra Loma, lying in the middle of the bay and on it 
Tabor Island. Chame Point, the southern horn of the bay, 
is a singular, low, woody, projecting peninsula, 5| miles long 
and one-half mile wide; between it and Cabra Loma Bank is 
a convenient harbor, 2 miles long by three-fourths mile wide, 
with from 3 to 8 fathoms water, there being 16 to 18 feet close 
to the beach. 

"Coast. — The coast from Chame Point to Bruja Point, a 
distance of 16 miles, forms a shoal bay, with several outlj^ing 
banks and rockj^ islets, and vessels bound to Panama should 
therefore keep near the Island of Taboga and not approach 
this shore within the depth of 5 fathoms. The Rio Chorrera 
discharges at the head of the bay, about 15 miles southwest- 


ward of Panama, and on the river, at about 17 miles from 
Panama, is the town of Chorrera, 180 feet above the sea, with 
nearly 5,000 inhabitants. Vique Cove, with a small village 
is 5 miles westward from Bruja Point. About a mile north- 
east of Vique is a lofty treble-peaked hill, 1,610 feet high, 
named Cerro de Cabra, a conspicuous object for vessels 
bound to Panama, and frequently mistaken for Taboga by 
those coming from the eastward. 

'^ Yalladolid Rock, with 10 fathoms close-to, lies 6 miles 
north of Otoque Island and 6^ miles northeast of Chame Point. 

" Chame Island lies 2 miles northeast of Yalladolid Rock, 
with 7 to 10 fathoms close outside. Perique Rock lies close 
to the north extreme of the island. 

"Taboga Island, with the islands of Urava and Tabo- 
guilla, forms a pleasant group, about 4 miles by 2 miles in 
extent, lying 9 miles south of Panama. Taboga, the highest 
and largest island, 935 feet high, is well cultivated, with a 
large village on its northeast side. Northward of the village 
is the Morroof Taboga, a small hill connected with the main 
island by a sandy neck covered at high water. This island 
is occupied by the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, which 
has here some stores, a water tank with abundant supply of 
water, and a gridiron 300 feet long. 

" The anchorage off the village is convenient, being about 
600 yards from the shore, in 10 fathoms, with the peak of 
Urava in range with the high cliff of Taboga, and the church 
bearing between southwest and west. 

" Ukava is a small lofty island separated from the southeast 
end of Taboga by a narrow and shoal channel ; off its south 
extreme is the small islet of Terapa. 

" Taboguilla, 710 feet high, also well cultivated, with some 
islets off its southwest extreme, is the northeast island of the 
group, with a wide and deep channel between it and Frava, 
and in the middle of the channel a rock which uncovers 4 feet 
at low-water springs; the sea seldom breaks over the rock at 
high water, and it must be carefully avoided bj^ closing either 
island, both being steep-to, or by keeping the neck of the 
Morro open, bearing N. 57° W. (N. 62° W. mag.), and pass- 
ing south of it. Farallon, a small islet, also lies in this chan- 
nel and is steep-to, with 10 fathoms between it and Taboguilla. 

"Melones, a small rocky islet, lies 2^ miles northwest of 


Taboga, with the Melones rock, above water, one-half mile to 
the northward of it. 

"Bruja Point, about 5 miles north w^ard of Taboga Island, 
is a rocky, projecting point, marking a turn of the coast. 
Venado, Cocovi, and Cocoviceta islets lie southwestward of 
the point, all within a distance of 1^ miles; and Tortola and 
Tortolita islets lie about 2 miles southeastward of the point 
and 3^ miles north of Taboga; these islets are all within the 
3-fathom curve. From Bruja Point to the City of Panama 
shoal water extends about 2 miles from the shore and envel- 
opes all the islands on this side of Panama road. 

"Batele Point, 1^ miles northeast of Bruja, is the south 
extreme, 102 feet high, of a large, round, hilly projection 
which forms the western side of Panama road. Cliangarmi 
Island, surrounded by the Pulperia Reefs, with Penamarca 
Rock at their northern end, lies 1^ miles S. 68° E. from the 

" Guinea Point, 1| miles northward of Batele Point, is the 
north extreme, 320 feet high, of the hilly projection above 
mentioned. From here to the city of Panama, 2^ miles to 
the northeastward, the shore line recedes in an extensive 
bight, filled with mud flats, and is broken by the mouths of 
the Farfan, the San Juan, and the Grande, small rivers with 
cultivated banks. La Boca, at the mouth of the Rio Grande 
and about 1^ miles west of the citj^ is the railway terminus, 
where connection with ship is made. 

"Naos, Culebra, Perico, and Flamenco Islands, with 
the outljdng islet of San Jose, are a group in the southwest- 
ern part of Panama road, Perico, 335 feet high, l^nng about 
6 miles noithward of the north extreme of Taboguilla and 2 
miles southward of the city. Naos, 167 feet high, is con- 
nected with Culebra and Perico by a neck of sand and rocks, 
covered at high water. The passage between Perico and 
Flamenco is shoal and sliould not be used except by boats, 
but that between Flamenco and San Jose has 5 fathoms in 
mid-channel and no dangers. Flamenco is 311: feet high. 

" Naos is the headquarters of the Pacific Mail Steamship 
Company, which has here machine shops, and a depot for 
fresh water, coal, and supplies, w^hich articles can be ob- 
tained from the company. The bay on the northern side of 
Naos and Perico forms a convenient anchorage, and on the 
isthmus connecting the two islands, which is sandy on the 


north side, steam vessels of 2,500 tons have been easily 
beached. A channel has been cut by the tides around the 
eastern end of Naos Island, through which the anchorage 
north of the island may be reached with a draft of 20 feet at 
mean low water. 

" La Boca Channel has been dredged across the flats that 
fill the bight southward of the city, so as to connect the 
anchorage northward of Perico Island with the Panama Rail- 
road terminus at La Boca, on the east side of the mouth of 
the Rio Grande, this being also the terminus of the Panama 
Canal. A large iron pier for vessels has been constructed at 
La Boca, and in the basin adjoining it the depth at mean low 
water was stated b}^ the Panama Railroad Company in June, 
1901, to be nowhere less than 29 feet. The channel is well 
marked by ten pairs of buoys, and five additional buoys mark 
the west side of the basin opposite the pier. These buoys, 
while intended to be, respectively, red and black, show with 
the color of rusty iron. The railroad company possesses and 
maintains in readiness for use an extensive dredging plant 
for the purpose of keeping this channel deep enough for 
ocean steamei's. 

' ' Panama — La Boca Channel— Dredging operations. — 
Information dated May 21, 1902, has been received from the 
Panama Railroad Company that the work of dredging the 
seaward end of La Boca Channel is progressing rapidly, 
establishing a depth of 21 feet at low water spring tides. The 
work will be continued until approximately that depth is 
established in the channel up to the pier and basins, at which 
a much greater depth is maintained. 

"La Boca Wharf ^^ was built by the canal company, but 
has been turned over to the railroad company. During its 
construction its failure was predicted on account of the great 
rise and fall of the tide and the difficulty of keeping open 
the channel leading to the wharf, as a great amount of mud 
is brought down by the San Juan River. The difficulties 
have been reduced to a minimum. Vessels are not lashed 
alongside the wharf, but have floats placed between them and 
the wharf, so that there are no bad results from the tide. 
The cranes or winches on the wharf are of a special kind that 
permits the working of cargo at all stages of the tide. 

"^^ Report of vice-consul-general, June 15, 1901. 
12312—03 8 

lltt N()TP]S ON PANAMA. 

"The following measurements give, in feet, the size and 
capacit}^ of the wharf: Total length, 085; total width, 54; 
depth of channel alongside at high tide, 45|; at low tide, 26^; 
width of channel alongside, 98; capacity of vessel space, 985; 
railroad tracks, 2; total length of railroad track, 787|; car 
capacity of tracks, 39; cranes, 6 of 2 tons and 1 of 20 to 24 
tons; tonnage of largest vessel yet docked, 4,600 tons. 

"The basin in which vessels lie has a maneuvering space 
of 486 feet. The bottom is soft mud, and while it is con- 
sidered best for the vessels to be at all times afloat, yet they 
can rest safely in the muddy bottom. 

' ' From the above it is seen that any vessel of 500 feet 
length and not drawing more than 26 feet can be handled at 
this wharf with facility. 

"The wharf is constructed entirely of steel, and is roofed 
over and housed in with corrugated iron. The rates charged 
for vessels coming alongside are governed for the most part 
by contract. 

"Los IlERMANOS RoCKS are three black rocks, visible at 
first-quarter ebb, lying nearly one-half mile south of the south- 
east bastion and 300 yards from the reef; detached rocks with 
3 and 7 feet of water between them, visible ontyat low-water 
springs, lie off their southeast extreme, the outer one being 
400 yards from the reef. 

"BUEY Point, seen only at half tide, is the northeastern 
extremity of the rocky ledge or reef that surrounds the east- 
ern and southern shores of the peninsula occupied by the 
city, with a width of from 500 to 1,000 yards. Immediately 
south of Buey Point, which lies 900 yards eastward of the 
northeast bastion, a deep indentation in the reef forms a baj^ 
in which, after half flood, there is easy landing on the sand}^ 
beach in front of the Monks' Gate. The reef is marked b}^ 
iron ]30sts. 

"Petillo Point, 1^ miles northeastward of the city, is a 
black rocky promontory with two small hills over it, and 
between them a rivulet admitting boats at high water; rocky 
ledges extend 300 yards from the point. Between Petillo 
Point and Buey Point the shore recedes nearly three-fourths 
mile, forming a bay called El Puerto, the head of which is of 
mud, edged with a sandy beach, and the greater portion dry 
at low- water springs. It is here that most of the minor trade 
of the gulf is carried on by means of bungos (large canoes 


made from trunks of trees, some of them, though, made of a 
single trunk measuring 12 tons). Though clumsy in appear- 
ance, they are well fitted for the navigation of the gulf, and 
bring to the city most of the tropical productions of the 

"The Knocker and Taboga are two rocks with only 6 
feet of water on them, the former nearly five-eighths mile 
S. 86° E. (N. 89° E. mag.) from the southeast bastion, and 
Taboga about 300 yards sou thw^est ward of the Knocker. A 
stranger should not attempt to pass west of the red buoy 
marking the Knocker, this being in 14 feet about 300 jSLvds 
eastw^ard of the rock, which has near it depths of 8 to 12 feet. 
Shoal patches with 10 and 11 feet lie outside the buoy at from 
400 to 800 yards from the Knocker. 

"Sulphur Rocks. — This dangerous reef, lying about a 
mile northw^est of the Danaide and 1^ miles eastward of the 
southeast bastion, is about one-fourth mile in extent, north 
and south, and has a rock awash in its center, with 6 and 9 
feet around it, and outlying patches of 12 and 14 feet. The'^ 
reef is marked by a red buoy on the southern side. The rail- 
road flagstaff, in line witli the center of Mount Ancon, bear- 
ing N. 89° W: (S. 86° W. mag.), leads northward of the reef 
in 15 feet, but this passage should not be used at low -water 

"Danaide Rocks. — These four patches of conical rocks, 
lying on the eastern side of the Panama Road, about 2^ miles 
northeastward of Perico Island and 2^ miles southeastward 
of the city, have only 15 to 18 feet on them, with 3^ and 4 
fathoms on all sides. They lie awkwardly in the track of 
vessels standing for the anchorage from the eastw^ard and 
keeping their luff with the land breeze. These shoal spots 
are favorite fishing places, and canoes seen in their vicinity 
should be avoided by vessels, as they may be fishing on the 

"Clearing marks. — The south steeple of the cathedral 
kept midway between the east and southeast bastions, N. 61° 
W. {N. 66° W. mag.), leads southward of all the Danaide 
patches; the Hermanos rocks in range with the hill, 252 feet 
high, betw^een the rivers Farfan and Grande, S. 84° W. (S. 
79° W. mag.), leads to the north w^ard of the patches and 
southward of Sulphur rocks. 

"Panama road, the anchorage off the city of Panama, al- 


though shoal and on the seaward side entirely unprotected, 
may be considered secure. The bottom, being of mud, liolds 
well, and with good ground tackle and common precaution a 
vessel might lie here with one anchor down all the year round. 
Attention to the tides and soundings will enable a vessel to 
lie close-in at times for discharge of cargo. The new dredged 
channel leading to the railroad terminus at La Boca enables 
vessels to discharge and load at the pier. 

"The inner anchorage is in 2 fathoms about a mile east- 
ward of the northeast bastion ; the outer anchorage is in 3^ to 
4 fathoms about 2 miles southeastward of the city, or in 5 to 
6 fathoms northeastward of Perico Island. 

"Lights. — A fixed red light, visible 3 miles, is shown at 
the end of the railroad wharf north of the city. 

"A fixed red electric light, maintained by the city to illu- 
minate the promenade, is shown at an elevation of 64 feet 
above low- water mark from a pole standing 100 feet north of 
the corner of the southeast bastion, and is the highest electric 
light seen from the bay. This light is made on rounding 
Taboguilla, being then, in ordinary weather, distinctly vis- 
ible, and is used as a leading light by the Pacific Mail steam- 
ers, giving them at night the direction of San Jose Rock by 
shutting the light out behind the rock. 

" Tides. — High water in Panama Road, corrected establish- 
ment, is at 3h. 2m. ; low water at 9h. 12m. ; mean range of 
tides, 13 feet; of springs, 17 feet; of neaps, 8 feet. The 
average times of high and low water are a trifle earlier at La 
Boca and the range of the tide somewhat greater, the mean 
range of spring tides being 20 feet. 

" The datum plane for the Ranger'' s survey of the harbor of 
Panama in February and March, 1900, is mean low water as 
determined by the Panama Canal Company's observations, 
extending over a period of five years, at its tide-gage station 
at the northeast end of Naos Island. 

"Tidal Streams. — The flood stream sets to the northwest- 
ward and the ebb stream to the southward, the strength vary- 
ing from one-half knot to 1^ knots per hour, the ebb being- 
stronger than the flood. The long swell which occasionally 
sets into the road ceases with the flowing tide. 



Tidal streams in Panama Harbor, as observed by the U. S. S. Ranger 
in February and March, 1900. 

Half flood. 

Half ebb. 


of tide 


Drift in 


of tide 


Drift in 

in feet. 


in feet. 


Eastward of Perico 



20 S. 


and Flamenco is- 


Knocker buoy 







Entrance to La Boca 






_ 7 


Halfway up La Boca 





SE. byE. IE. 



La Boca basin, half- 





SE. * E. 


way between pier 

and inner-channel 


"Panama city, the capital of the Department of Panama, 
with a population estimated in 1901 at 20,000, of which the 
foreign element, mostly Jamaican negroes, forms about one- 
half, the Americans numbering about 100, stands on a rocky 
peninsula jutting out into the shallow water at the head of the 
bay, and was formerly a strongly fortified city. It has a noble 
appearance from the sea; the churches, towers, and houses, 
showing above the line of the fortifications, stand out from 
the dark hills inland with an air of grandeur. About a mile 
westward of the city, to which it forms a j)leasant background, 
is Mount Ancon, a beautiful hill, 630 feet high. On each side 
of Ancon are flat hills, with copses of wood and savannas, 
grassy slopes, and wild thickets, while to the southward the 
cultivated islets of Perico and Flamenco complete a scene 
which, says Dampier, makes 'one of the finest objects that I 
ever did see, in America, esi^ecially.' 

" The expectations formed in viewing the city from the sea 
are by no means realized on landing. The principal streets 
extend across the peninsula and are intersected hy the Calle 
Real running east and west, which has a quiet and stately 
but comfortless air. The houses are of stone, mostly in the 
old Spanish style, the larger ones with courts and patios. 
The public edifices, comprising cathedral, churches, con- 
vents, nunnery, college, theater, and market, are partly in 
ruins. The cathedral, a large lofty building on the west side 
of the plaza, is hardly worthy of its situation, only the towers 
redeeming it from insignificance and forming in the distance 
an ornament to the city. The fortifications were well con- 


striicted, but are in partial ruins, tlio northeast bastion hav- 
ing fallen in 1845. The south and west ramparts are in fair 
condition and form a pleasant promenade. Drainage is neg- 
lected, though the elevation of the peninsula on which the 
city stands, together with the great rise and fall of the tide, 
offers considerable advantages for cleansing, a duty at pres- 
ent performed by the heavy rains of the wet season. In 1901 
the police force of the city, numbering 150, was reported as 
efficient, well uniformed, and well armed. The city was 
under martial law. 

"The old city of Panama, built in 1518, which was taken 
and destroyed by the buccaneers under Morgan in 1673, stood 
at the mouth of a creek, about 4 miles northeast of the pres- 
ent city. Old Panama was larger than the Panama of this 
day and a i^lace of surprising wealth. The spot is now 
deserted, but well marked b}^ a tower, an arch, two or three 
piers of a bridge, and some fragments of wall. In the afternoon 
the tower is still a conspicuous object from the anchorage. 

"Weather. — The following brief synopsis of the weather 
at Panama is by Mr. J. H. Smith, long a resident of the city: 

"January, February, and March. — Fresh north winds, 
fine weather, and clear sky. 

"April. — North winds decreasing, with frequent calms and 
light southerly airs in tlie day; latter end of month, occasional 
squalls from the north ai the afternoon, with rain, thunder, 
and lightning. 

"May. — During the da}^ frequent calms and light southerly 
winds, weather becoming cloudy, and occasional fresh squalls 
from northeast to southeast, with rain. 

"June. — The rainy season well set in, breezes during the 
day increasing from the south, with squalls and heavy rain; 
nights generally clear, with light land breezes from the north; 
latter end of month eight or ten days of fine weather fre- 
quently occur. 

"July, August, and September. — Moderate south winds, 
squalls, and rain; during the equinox four to six days of 
strong south winds without cessation during the night, and 
frequent squalls with rain. 

"October. — South winds, squalls, and rain; frequent land 
winds at night and fine west winds. 

"November. — South winds decreasing, with frequent inter- 
vals of fine weather and occasional squalls oft' the land. 




December. — First part, frequent calms and light south 
winds during the day; latter part, occasional north winds and 
line weather. 

"Sanitary conditions. — The habits of the people are in 
general most uncleanly and the sanitary condition is bad. 
Yellow fever, remittent, bilious, and pernicious fevers are 
endemic, and yelloAv fever was considered epidemic in July, 
1885. No reliable information can be obtained as to the mor- 
tality of the port; it has been reported as high as 40 per diem 
during the sickly season. The most sickly parts of the year 
are at the changes of the seasons. It is considered that the 
prevailing direction of the wind has some influence on the 
sanitary- state — that the northwest winds are healthful and 
the southeast winds unhealthful. During the wet season 
calms and light variable winds prevail, the air is laden with 
moisture, and it is very oppressive. At the canal company's 
observatory on Naos Island the highest temperature was 102° 
F. and the lowest 66° F. 

"Hospitals. — The foreign hospital, built and owned by 
the canal company, situated on high ground at the foot of 
Mount An con, is well managed and clean, with a capacity of 
about 2,000. The cost of occupation is |2 and 15 per day for 
a separate room. Two regular physicians are in attendance. 
A sanitarium on Taboga Island is connected with the hospital. 

"The St. Thomas Hospital, a charity institution, situated 
in the city and subsidized by the Government, is dii'tj^ and 
not well kept. The capacity is about 100 and cost of occupa- 
tion II per day. 

"Supplies. — Supplies may be had, but it is considered 
unsafe to buy them on account of the bad sanitary condition 
of the place and the consequent danger of infection. Light- 
ers for the transportation of stores may be hired from the 
railway company. Fresh provisions in ample quantity and 
of fair quality can be purchased as required. Prices paid bj^ 
the U. S. S. Iowa in October, 1901: Fresh beef, 12|^ cents; 
vegetables, 8 cents; bread, 8 cents. All i^inds of fruit are 
obtainable. Ice can be obtained in large quantities. Sand 
is obtained from Perico Island. Good water can be obtained 
from the Pacific Mail Steamship Company at Flamenco 
Island or from the Pacific Steam Navigation Company at 
Taboga Island, being brought alongside and pumped into the 
tanks by steam pumps at a cost of 2 cents per gallon. The 


Iowa was supplied by th(3 Panjiiiui Railroad Coinpain% by 
steam water boat, capacity 50,000 gallons, at 0.9 cent per 

" Coaling Facilities. — Ciunberland, Cardiff, Welsh, New 
Castle, and Australian coal can be obtained from the Panama 
Railroad Company, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and 
the Pacific Steam Navigation Company, which companies 
keep large quantities on hand, though it is said that the 
steamshix) companies will not part with any coal when it can 
be purchased elsewdiere. The coal is delivered alongside in 
lighters holding from 150 to 250 tons, at a cost per ton of from 
113 to 117. Coal may be obtained directl}' from the ship or 
collier, which greatly lessens the danger of fever. The Iowa 
was supplied by the Panama Railroad Company with 100 
tons per week of Pocahontas coal, at 19.50 gold per ton; 
supply reported as i^lentiful. 

"Telegraph and postal communication. — Panama is 
connected by cable with South American and Central Ameri- 
can ports, and b}^ land line with Colon, and thence by cable 
with Jamaica and the West Indies. The line to the United 
States and Europe is by way of the Tehuantepec Isthmus, 
the City of Mexico, and Galveston, Tex. Postal communica- 
tion with the United States is by the Panama Railroad Com- 
pany's steamers from Colon; with Central America, Mexico, 
and San Francisco by the Pacific Mail and other steamers, 
and with South American ports by the steamers of the Pacific 
Steam Navigation Company and the South American Steam- 
ship Company. Mails from the United States are at times 

"Steamer lines. — Panama is a terminal point or port of 
call of four lines of steamers, viz ; 

"(1) The Pacific Mail line to San Francisco, three times a 
month, calling at Central American and Mexican ports. 

" (2) The Panama Railroad Steamship line to San Francisco 

"(3) The Pacific Steam Navigation Company's line from 
Coronel, Valparaiso, and intermediate ports to San Francisco 
and intermediate ports; also line of this compan3^from South 
American ports to Acapulco and way ports; and line from 
South American ports to Ocos and way ports. 

" (4) The Compania Sud- Americana de Vapores Line, with 
the same itinerary and alternating in service with the pre- 


ceding company, Lota (Chile) being the extreme southern 
point, however, instead of Coronet. 

" The rate for first-class passengers from New York to San 
Francisco is $105, and from New York to Valparaiso $240. 

" Commerce. — The commerce and trade of Panama is natu- 
rally divided into two parts, the local and the transit. The 
latter is also divided into two parts, that with the United 
States and that with Europe. The entire local trade of 
Panama with the United States for the year 1885 amounted 
to $3,728,961 of exports and $4,263,519 of imports. 

" The local exports are India rubber (which is becoming 
scarcer), gold dust, hides, ivory nuts, manganese, shells, to- 
bacco, cocobolo (a cabinet wood), tortoise shells, vanilla, 
whale oil, sarsaparilla, cocoanuts, and fruit. From South 
America the bulk of the shipments consists of bark, cotton, 
cocoa, and rubber; from the Central American States, of 
coffee, sugar, and indigo. 

"Panama is normally a free port, but import duties are 
levied on tobacco in all its forms, salted or preserved meats, 
wines, spirits, ales, beer, ginger beer, cider, salt, etc. Recent 
reports state that there is a customs duty of 15 per cent on 
all goods, with an increase on spirits. 

"In shipping stores for naval vessels on the coast to the 
care of the consul-general at Panama it is absolutely neces- 
sary that the}^ should be accompanied b}^ complete invoices 
stating the contents of each package, the weight thereof, and 
the cost value. Small parcels must also be accomx3anied by 
a statement of contents and value addressed to the consul- 
general or to the person to whose care they are consigned. 

"Machine shops. — The Pacific Mail Company has a small 
machine shop on Naos Island for repairing vessels of the line, 
and the Pacific Steam Navigation Company has a similar one 
at Taboga Island. There are no docks at Panama; the grid- 
iron at Taboga is the onlj^ means of effecting repairs to ves- 
sels' hulls. 

"Landing place. — The general landing place at high w^ater 
is around Buey Point inside the northeast bastion, at the 
market place known as 'the steps.' Great care is required 
when landing at Panama in steam cutters or other heavy 
boats, which can be effected only at nearl}^ high water. Land- 
ing is made m small boats from ships' boats at Hotel Marina 
landing. Boats going in should pass southward of the outer 


white beacon and leave all the other beacons on the port 

"The Panama Railroad, 47 statute miles long, extending 
to Colon, on the Atlantic side of the Isthmus, is an asset of 
the bankrupt Panama Canal Company, which holds nearl}^ all 
of the stock. Culebra, the station at the highest jioint of the 
road, is probably, with the exception of the Nicaragua divide, 
the lowest point in the range of mountains that extends from 
North America all the way through South America, being 
252.4 feet above mean sea level. 

"The road, which was built by an American company be- 
tween 1850 and 1855, is a broad-gage, single-track line, with 
a maximum grade of 76.6 feet to the mile. The rate for first- 
class passengers between Panama and Colon, formerly $25, 
is now $4 in American gold. 

"At Colon connection is made for ports of the Spanish Main, 
the West Indies, and all parts of Europe by steamers of the 
Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, Leyland Line, Harrison 
Line, Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, Hamburg- Ameri- 
can Packet Company, La Veloce (Italian), and Compaiiia 
Transatlantica Espaiiola. The steamers of the Panama Rail- 
road Steamship line leave Colon for New York every Tues- 
day; time seven days. 

"The Panama Ship Canal, to connect the Atlantic and 
Pacific oceans, is planned to follow much the same route as 
that of the railway from Colon to Panama, the length to be 
49.09 statute miles from the 6-fathom line in the harbor of 
Colon to the 8-fathom line in Panama road, and the depth 35 
feet, with a minimum bottom, width of 150 feet, as planned 
for the Nicaragua route. The special difficulties to be en- 
countered are the deep cut of the summit level at Culebra and 
the Bohio Dam for the imxjounding and control of the waters 
of the Chagres River and its tributaries. The summit level 
of the canal, that of Lake Bohio, this level being carried com- 
pletely through the Cnlebra Cut, will be nearly 22 miles in 
length and in general 85 feet above mean sea level, with ex- 
treme fluctuation between 82 and 92 feet. It will be reached 
by two locks on the Atlantic side, both at the Bohio Dam, 
and by three locks on the Pacific side, two at Pedro Miguel 
and one at Miraflores, the latter point being 1.33 miles nearer 
Panama. The cost of construction to complete the canal on 
these lines, taking advantage of the work alread}^ done, is 


estimated by the Isthmian Canal Commission at about 

"The natnral attractions of the Panama route lie in the 
combination of a very narrow isthmus with a low snmmit. 
The width of the Isthmus iu a straight line is less than 35 
statute miles, while the summit is barely 300 feet above mean 
tide, which, though higher than the Nicaragua summit, is less 
than half the height of any other that has been investigated. 
The high portion of the Isthmus is limited to a width of about 
6 miles near the Pacific side, and the Chagres River affords 
access by canoe navigation to within 15 miles of the Pacific 

"Consuls. — The United States is represented at Panama 
by a consul-general and a vice-consul-general. Great Britain 
and France by consuls, and many other countries by honor- 
ary consular officers. 

"Port officials. — There is a captain of the port, who is 
also the health officer, but it appears that he does not board 
incoming vessels and quarantine is not very strictly enforced.^ 
The quarantine station is near Taboguilla Island. Pilots are 
not required except for La Boca channel, for which the pilot 
is furnished by the Panama Railroad Company. 

"Official calls. — The governor of the Department of 
Panama and the President of the Republic, when present, 
are the only native officials to be called on. A saluting bat- 
tery has recently been established on shore and salutes are 
promptly returned. ^^ 

"Directions. — Sailing vessels bound to Panama, especiany 
between December and June, should endeavor to get within 
3 or 4 miles of Chepillo Island, which lies near the coast north 
of the Pearl Islands, and so have all the advantage of the 
northerly wind. From this position Ancon Hill, behind the 
city, will be seen and should be kept a little on the port bow, 
as the wind draws to the westward on approaching the cit3^ 
Vessels drawing over 18 feet should pass south of the Danaide 
Rocks by keeping San Jose Rock open to the westwai'd of 
Taboga Island until the cathredal towers are open to the 
northward of Ancon. Having passed the Danaide, the ship 
is fairly in the road and ma}^ anchor according to her draft. 
If not more than 18 feet, she may have Tortola jusfc shut in by 

« Report from U. S. S. loim, September 9, 1901. 


Naos, bearing S. 30° W. (S. 25° W. mag.), and San Jose open 
east of Taboguilla. Lai-ger vessels, drawing 24 feet, may 
anchor northeastward of Perico, with Urava Peak in I'ange 
with the east point of Flamenco bearing S. G° W. (S. 1° W. 
mag. ), taking care not to open Changarmi northward of Perico. 
If necessaiy to work up the road to an inslioi'e berth, a vessel 
should tack on the western side just before Perico and Fla- 
menco touch, and in standing to the eastward avoid closing 
San Jose with Taboga Island, or Tortola with Flamenco. 

"Vessels drawing 14 feet may pass northward of Danaide 
and south of Sulphur Rock, with Ilermanos Rocl^s on with 
the right. side of the peak between the rivers Farfan and 
Grande; then San Jose Rock on with the peak of Taboguilla, 
bearing south (S. 5° E. mag.), leads between Sulphur Rocks 
and the Knocker to an anchorage north of the buoy, in 16 
feet, keeping it between Perico and Flamenco, with Gabilan, 
a rocky jDeninsula west of the town, just shut in by the south- 
east bastion. During neap tides anchorage more to the north- 
west may be taken. 

"Coast. — From Petillo Point to the Chepo River an exten- 
sive mud flat borders the coast the entire distance, fronted 
by a shoal bank, the edge of which lies from 3 to 5 miles from 
shore. Numerous small streams intersect the shore line. 
Vessels should not stand into less than 6 fathoms between 
Panama and Chepillo Island. 

" Chepo River, which enters the Bay of Panama about 25 
miles eastward of the city, comes from some distance in the 
interior, its source being far to the eastward, near the head- 
waters of the Savannah River. The entrance is to the west- 
ward of Chepillo Island, through a 10-foot chajinel about 600 
yards wide. A small hill with a cliff under it on the east- 
ern bank, steered for on a bearing N. 54° E. (N. 49° E. mag.), 
will lead through the deepest water. 

"The San Blas Canal route, much recommended by 
the narrowness of the Isthmus at this point (27 miles), was 
carefully- examined in 1870 by Commander Selfridge, U. S. 
Navy. The route ascends the Chepo River 12 miles, and 
then the Mamoni, a tributary from the northward, to its source ; 
thence it crosses the divide, with an elevation of 1,142 feet, 
and descends hy the Mandinga River to the Gulf of San Bias. 
A tunnel of 10 miles would be required to connect cuts of 190 
feet on either side of the divide. For the remaining 16 miles 


the excavation would not exceed an average of GO feet. The 
vast expenditure for so long a tunnel renders this route, 
otherwise so prepossessing, of questionable practicability. 

" The most complete plan developed by the Isthmian Canal 
Commission for this route involves a tunnel at least 7 miles 
long, which, while considered not necessarily impracticable, 
would be very objectionable, and renders this line inferior to 
that of Panama or Nicaragua. 

"Tides. — High water, full and change, at the mouth of 
Chepo River is at 3 h. 40 m. ; tides rise about 16 feet. 

" Chepillo Island, described by Dampier as the most 
pleasant island in Panama Bay, lying off the mouth of Chepo 
River about 24 miles eastward of Panama and 2 miles from 
the coast, is 1 mile long by one-half mile broad, and very 
fertile. It is low on the north side, and rises by a gentle 
ascent toward the south end, over which is a remarkable 
tree that forms an excellent mark to vessels bound up the 
bay. The south end may be approached within a mile, but 
the other sides are shoal, and a reef extends three-fourths 
mile off the north point, following the direction of the channel. 

" Pelado Islet, lying 31^ miles southeastward of Chepillo 
Island and 4 miles west of Mangue Islet, directly off the 
mouth of Chiman River, is flat, of small extent, about 60 feet 
high, and treeless, but covered with a coarse prickly shrub; 
it is steep- to on all sides and forms a useful mark for vessels 
bound to Panama. 

"The coast between Chepillo Island and Pelado Islet con- 
sists of low river land with mangrove bushes. Of the sev- 
eral small streams, the principal are the Hondo and Corutu, 
both being shoal at the entrance. The land north of these 
rivers is of some elevation; Column Peak and Asses' Ears, 
about 12 miles north of Chiman River, and Thumb Peak, at 
the west extreme of the range, are conspicuous. Extensive 
mud flats, dry at low water, extend from 1 to 4 miles from 
the coast, and outside of the flats is a shoal bank the outer 
edge of which lies 7 miles from the shore. Vessels standing 
in shore should tack in 9 fathoms. 

"Chiman River, 32 miles southeastward of Chepo River, 
is wide at the mouth, but shoal, being nearly dry at low water, 
with small channels for canoes. The entrance is well marked 
by the wooded bluffs on each side, the Mangue Islet to the 
southward, and Pelado Islet in the offing. On the eastern side, 


under a hill, is the small village of Chiman. This is tlie point 
to which Pizarro retired in 1525 after beating abont for seventy 
days, with much danger and incessant fatigue, without b(iing 
able to make any advance to the southward. He was here 
joined hj Almagro, and the following year they sailed again 
for Peru. 

"Mangue and Majaguay are high and wooded islets 
lying, respectively, 3 miles and 2 miles south of the east en- 
trance point of Chiman River, and at the western edge of a 
large mud flat, dry at low water, which extends to the north 
bank of Trinidad River. There are 10 to 12 feet of water to 
the westw^ard of the islets. 

"Trinidad River, about 9 miles southeastward of Chiman 
RiA^er, has a low rocky projection forming its southern point 
of entrance. A 3-fathom channel was found into this river, 
extending 1^ miles from the point, beyond which distance it 
w^as not examined. The northern bank of the river is com- 
posed of mangroves, which continue along the coast from here 
to Panama, a distance of nearl}^ 70 miles, except where inter- 
rupted b}^ the bluffs of the rivers Chiman and Chepo. Shag 
Rock, a barren islet with shoal water around it, frequented 
by birds, lies 2^ miles northward of the entrance. 

' ' The Pajaros are two small rocky islets, lying between 
2 and 3 miles south of the south entrance point of Trinidad 
River and 1^ miles from the coast, with 4 and 5 fathoms 
off their west sides, but only 12 feet between them and the 
shore. From Chame Point, southwest of Panama, to these 
islets, the whole shore of Panama Ba}^ is fronted by a shoal 
with 5 fathoms on its outer edge. 

" South Farallon Ingles is a small but high island, lying 
about 8 miles southward of the Pajaros and 19 miles south- 
eastward of Pelado Islet, at the edge of the shoal off the river 
Buenaventura, with 12 and 15 feet of water on its western 
side. North Farallon lies three-fourths mile to the northward 
and three-eighths mile from the w^est entrance point to the river. 
It was in this river, in 1881, that Dampier and his party, 
being prevented by the Spaniards from going by way of the 
Santa Maria or Chepo rivers, sank their ship when starting 
on their journey to the Atlantic; this they reached in twenty- 
three days at a point near Concepcion cays, 60 miles w^est- 
ward of Golden Island in Caledonia Bay, having traveled 
110 miles and crossed some high mountains, though their 


common march was in the valleys, among deep and dangerous 

" GORDA Point, 4 miles northward of the South Farallon, is 
bold and woody, with 4 fathoms close-to; above this point 
there is less swell than to the southward of it. 

" Brava Point and San Lorenzo Point, 2 miles to the east- 
ward of Brava, lie on the north side of the entrance to San 
Miguel Bay; both are edged with reefs and outlying rocks 
on which the sea breaks with great violence, and this fact, 
together with the proximitj^ of the Buey Bank, makes this 
part of the coast dangerous, and it should be avoided even by 
small vessels. 

" Buey Bank, lying about a mile south of Brava Point, in 
the northern part of. the entrance to San Miguel Bay, is an 
extensive shoal about 3 miles in diameter, which dries in 
patches at low water and on which a heavy sea breaks. A 
passage five-eighths mile wide, with 4 to 5 fathoms, lies be- 
tween the bank and the shore, but subject to a heav}^ swell 
and not recommended for use. A spit with 12 feet of water 
extends 1 J miles off the southwest side of the bank, and out- 
side the spit the water deepens very gradually, the 5-fathom 
line lying about 3 miles to the westward and 2 miles to the 

"San Miguel Bay, on the eastern side of the Gulf of 
Panama, is 15^ miles wide between the entrance points, Brava 
on the north and Garachine on the south, and penetrates within 
the points about 20 miles to the eastward. Between San Lo- 
renzo Point and Paten a Point to the southeastward, the bay 
narrows to about 7^ miles, expands again within to 11 miles, 
and again narrows to 4^ miles between Pierce and Virgin 
points; thence continues a curved and gradually narrowing 
channel, terminating in the land-locked and spacious Darien 
Harbor, formed by the junction of the rivers Savannah and 

"Across the entrance of the bay and for about 9 miles sea- 
ward extends a flat bottom with depths from 5 to 8 fathoms, 
but the water gradually deepens within the bay, and through 
the Boca Grande the depths are from 11 to 16 fathoms. Across 
the entrance flat a depth of 7^ fathoms can be carried, and 
thence to Darien Harbor more than 8 fathoms. 

"San Miguel Bay was well known to the buccaneers, who 
used it as the entrance to the Pacific and terminus of their 


overlaiiel journey's from the Gulf of Darien, which they gen- 
erally accomplished in about ten days. Careful surveys were 
made in 1870 and 1871 by naval parties under Commander 
Selfridge, U. S. Navy, to ascertain the feasibility^ of a ship 
canal between this point and the Atlantic coast at Caledonia 
Bay and the Gulf of Darien, but the different routes across 
this part of the Isthmus were found to be quite impracticable. 
The route by way of the Atrato, the Napipi, and the Doguado 
rivers, considered by Commander Selfridge as the most prac- 
ticable route eastward of Panama, terminates on the Pacific 
at Chiri-Chiri Bay, 112 miles below Garachine Point. 

"San Lorenzo Point lies 2 miles S. 76° E. from Brava 
Point, the shore betw^een them receding in a shoal- water bight. 
A reef projects about 2 miles southeastward from the point, 
and on the reef at 1^ miles from the point are the Paul Rocks, 
above water. 

"From San Lorenzo Point the shore line turns sharply 
northward and sweeps around in a semicircular curve to Pierce 
Point, a rocky projection 7 miles to the northeastward, form- 
ing within these points North Bay, in which the depths are 
quite regular from 2f to 2 fathoms. A mud flat borders most 
of the shore and several streams enter the bay, among them 
being the rivers Congo and Cupunadi. In the western part of 
the bay is a shoal bank of triangular shape, about 3 miles on 
a side, with depths of one-half fathom, and on this bank are 
the islands Iguana and Iguanita and the Amelia islets and 
rocks. Lost Rock lies 2 miles north of San Lorenzo Point and 
one-fourth mile from shore. 

" From Pierce Point a reef projects about three-fourths 
mile to the southward, with a rock above water near its outer 
end. McKinnon Baj^, a small bight with shoal water at the 
head, lies eastward of the point and reef. Peris Point, 4 
miles northeastward of Pierce Point, marks a sharp turn of 
the shore line to the northward at the beginning of the Boca 

" Garachine Point, the south entrance point of San Miguel 
Bay, is at the extremity of a peninsula projecting 5^ miles 
northward from the mainland, with an average breadth of 2 
miles. The land to the southward and eastward of the penin- 
sula is lofty. Mount Zapo — noticeable as a sharp conical peak 
about miles from the coast — rising to an elevation of 3,000 
feet above the sea. A high, bold, and wooded coast appar- 
ently free from dangers and with deep water close-to, extends 


southward about 30 miles to Pinas Bay. Cape Escarpado, 
with a small bight just above it, open to the northwestward, 
lies about 3 miles southward of the point. 

" Garachine Point is clean, and on its north and west sides 
may be closely skirted, but on the east side the line of 3 
fathoms runs eastward from the extreme point. 

" Garachine or South Bay, lying within Garachine Point 
and Patena Point, 11^ miles to the northeastward, is shoal, 
with a low mangrove shore, from which mud banks extend to 
a distance of 3 miles. These flats are fronted by a shoal bank 
with 2 to 3 fathoms, occupying much of the remaining area 
of the bay. Several small streams enter the bay, and a chan- 
nel with one-half fathom of water leads across the mud flat 
to the mouth of the River Sambu. Along the east side of the 
Garachine Peninsula extends a tongue of water with a depth 
of 2i fathoms, forming a small harbor with anchorage for 
small vessels near Garachine village, a small collection of 
huts at the head, where enters the River Alquitran. 

"Vessels may anchor close-off either Garachine or Patena 
points, the depth of water being convenient. 

"Patena Point is low, sharp, and projecting, with Pate- 
nito Islet close outside and deep water near islet and point. 
Colorado Point, about 2f miles northeastward of Patena, is 
bold and rocky, with a conspicuous patch of reddish clay on 
its face ; within the points the shore recedes about 1^ miles, 
forming Charles Bay. From Colorada to Corales Point, If 
miles to the northeastward, the shore gradually gets lower, 
and from the latter point sweeps around to Virgin Point, 
forming a bay, with low mangrove shores, nearly 5 miles wide 
between the points; at the head is Corales village, about a 
mile southeast of the point, with anchorage off it at one-half 
mile; the shore of the bay is bordered by shoal water to the 
distance of three-eighths to three-fourths mile, outside of 
which are apparently no dangers. 

"From Virgin Point the shore line in its general trend 
turns gradually northward for nearly 5 miles to Virago Point, 
at the entrance of the Boca Chica ; in this space are several little 
bays lined with mangrove, the points generally being of small 
elevation, rocky, and covered with bush. Bains Bluff, 1 mile 
southward of Virago Point, should be avoided on account of 
a ledge of rocks off it at 600 yards; the shore between the 
bluff and the point is also bordered by shoal water. 
12312—03 9 


"Cedar or Washington Island, '^ miles northeast of 
Corales Point and 1^ miles west of Virgin Point, is about 
600 yards long and wide and densely covered with wood. 
Several islets and rocks extend southward from it, and these, 
with the shoal extending from the opposite shore, take up 
much of the width of the channel on this side of the island. 
The best and most direct channel up the bay is northward of 
the island, and between it and Jones Islet, a conspicuous little 
rock about 20 feet high and covered with grass, lying 1^ miles 
to the northwestward of Cedar, both being clean and safe of 
approach, with 10 fathoms in mid-channel. 

"Strain Island, 2^ miles northeastward of Cedar and 1^ 
miles from the eastern shore, is about 25 feet high and cov- 
ered with trees and shrubs. It is surrounded by a ledge of 
rocks, extending a short distance off it toward the channel, 
and is connected by mud banks with two islands westward 
of it. 

Between Strain Island and the western shore ai-e Jorey 
Island, a chain of islets called Los Gombales, Edith Islet, and 
Mary Islet, all forming a group within the o-fathom line, cov- 
ering an area of 2 miles by 1^ miles. Strain is the southeast- 
ernmost of the group and nearest the channel. 

"Anchorage. — The space included between Cedar, Jones, 
and this group of islets appears to afford the most favorable 
anchorage for vessels not wishing to enter Darien Harbor, or 
obliged to wait for the tide in order to do so on account of 
the strong tidal currents and eddies in the entrances. 

"Barry Rock, seven-eighths mile southwest of Strain 
Island and three-eighths mile north of Seaford Point, is 20 
feet high, covered with cactuses, and surrounded by deep 
water; the channel is between the rock and the island, and 
has a depth of 10 fathoms. 

"Stanley Island, low and wooded, 1| miles long by 1 
mile wide, divides the channel into two passages, both lead- 
ing into Darien Harbor; the principal one, the Boca Grande, 
forms a continuation of San Miguel Bay to the northward 
along the west and north sides of the island, wdiile the Boca 
Chica skirts its south side, lying between the island and 
Virago Point. 

"The Boca Chica has on either side of its outer entrance 
a dangerous ledge of rocks, the passage between them being 
but about 200 yards wide; the southern ledge, called 'Colum- 


bia Rocks,' projects about one-eighth mile westward from 
Virago Point and shows only at low- water spring tides; the 
Foley Rocks lie along the north side of the channel, extend- 
ing nearly one-fourth mile westward from the south point 
of the island, and uncovering at half tide; north of this ledge 
is Trevan Islet. At three-eighths mile within the entrance 
the channel narrows to about 50 yards, the width between 
the shores being less than 200 j^ards. A small ledge makes 
out a short distance from Buena Vista, the southeast point 
of Stanley Island, having passed which the vessel will be in 
Darien Harbor, and may anchor, as convenient, in 5 to 10 
fathoms, sand and mud. 

"Although the Boca Chica carries a low- water deptli of 5 
fathoms, its use is not recommended, unless at slack water, 
for during the strength of the tide the velocity of the stream 
reaches 6 to 7 knots, and the eddies make steerage difficult. 

"Leading Mark. — The northwest extreme of Jorey Island 
and the middle of Mary Islet in line, S. 58° W. (S. 53° W. 
mag.), clears the rocks in the entrance of the Boca Chica. 
When past these rocks a vessel should keep in mid-channel, 
and when past the reef off Buenavista Point haul a little to 
the northward, to give Price Point a berth of 150 yai'ds. 

"The Boca Grande is a little over a mile wide at the 
entrance, between the rocks outside the Boca Chica and Milne 
Island, on the western shore, and continues for 1^ miles at 
about the same width between Stanley Island and the shore. 
A dangerous rock, only showing at about three-fourths ebb 
and connected by a ledge with the island, lies off its north- 
west point, and from the opposite shore a shoal extends five- 
eighths of a mile, leaving between rock and shoal a width of hve- 
eighths of a mile for the navigable channel; this now bends to 
the eastward and continues of the same width between Ray 
and Jeannette islands on the north, and a large, fiat rock, 
nearly always uncovered, and a small wooded island, about 
a cable off Stanley, on the south; then bending southeast- 
ward it continues between Ellen and Paley islands on the west 
and the main shore on the east into Darien Harbor, graduall}^ 
broadening after passing the former island and attaining a 
width of n^arl}- 2 miles abreast of the Boca Chica. 

"Savannah Point is the southern extremity of the long, 
low peninsula separating for a distance of 5 miles the Savan- 
nah River from the Boca Grande. Foul ground borders the 


point, extending off one-fourth mile, and at that distance 
south of the point is a small islet with deep water close along 
its southern edge. Graham Point, one-half mile beyond 
Savannah, marks the enti-ance of the river, and has close off 
it the tiny islet La Pantila. 

" Vaguila Rock, showing at about half tide, lies a little 
over one-half mile south of Savannah Point. There is a good 
channel three-eighths mile wide between the rock and the 
islet off the point, with 9 to 11 fathoms of water. 

"Directions. — To pass through the Boca Grande: After 
passing Barry Rock a vessel may haul up for the southwest 
end of Stanley Island, keeping on the range of Barry Rock 
and Virgin Point until Jones Islet comes in range with Strain 
Island; then steer to pass about one-fourth mile from Milne 
Island, and as soon as Mary Island is shut in hj Milne steer 
for Ra}^ Island, keeping the east end of Edith Island a little 
open of Milne; following the channel, pass Ray at one-fourth 
mile, and as soon as Ellen Island opens from Turk Island haul 
to the southward, giving these islands and then Paley Island 
a berth of one-fourth mile to starboard, and anchor, as con- 
venient, in 5 to 10 fathoms; bottom, sand and mud. 

"Darien Harbor, formed by the junction of the Tuja-a 
and Savannah rivers, extends in a southeasterly direction 
from the Boca Grande to the village of Chipigana, on the 
south bank of the Tuyra, a distance of 11 miles, with a width 
of 4 miles in the northern part and 2 miles at the village. 
The depth of water is from 7 to 10 fathoms from Paley Island 
to the mouth of the Savannah, beyond which it shoals rapidly, 
almost the entire harbor having a uniform depth of from 13 
to 17 feet. Off Chixjigana there is a depth of 3f fathoms for 
an area of about 1 mile by H miles, affording excellent anchor- 
age for vessels not exceeding that draft, to which it is access- 
ible b}^ taking advantage of the tides. During spring tides, 
which here rise 22 feet, the currents both of ebb and flood 
run at this point with great velocity, and especially is this 
the case during freshets, when it is oftentimes difficult for a 
vessel to remain at anchor. 

"The shores of the harbor are almost a continuous line of 
mangrove, intersected by numerous small streams, with 
densely wooded hills from 100 to 300 feet high a short dis- 
tance inland. Chipigana is a town of about 600 inhabitants, 
mostly negroes, of which race almost the whole population of 


Darien is composed. The houses are built of bamboo, and 
everything is of the most primitive description, a compromise 
between barbarism and civilization. 

" La Palma Village, on the west shore, just at the inner 
entrance to the Boca Grande and at the beginning of the shoal 
water of the liarbor, appears to be situated at the best iDoint, 
and has an abundance of fresh water, 

" Anchorage.— The best place for anchorage is in 7 to 10 
fathoms off Palma Village, about a mile southeastward of 
Price Point and 600 yards from shore. 

"Tides. — High water, full and change, in Darien Harbor 
is at 4h. 15m. ; the mean rise and fall of tide is 16 feet. The 
tidal streams in the narrows are very strong, especially at the 
time of springs, which are said to rise 24 feet. Great care is 
required in the navigation, and it would seem advisable, at 
least for a stranger, to wait for slack water before attempt- 
ing the passages. 

" Productions. — All tropical productions of the Western 
Hemisphere can be grown here. Maize, rice, sugar, coffee, 
cocoa, j^ams, and plantains grow almost wild; mahogany can 
be had in abundance; also the palm and the india-rubber tree 
abound. This fine harbor, with its extensive rivers pene- 
trating into the interior, in the hands of an energetic people 
that would cultivate the fertile soil of the region, would soon 
become a place of importance. 

" Climate. — There is a rainy and a dry season, the former 
beginning in May and lasting until November, accompanied 
by lightning and thunder and winds peculiar to the Gulf of 
Panama; for the other six months of the year the weather is 
fine. With common care, the country is comparativel}^ 

"TuYRA River, the Santa Maria of the Spaniards and 
buccaneers, rises in latitude 7° 40' N. and enters Darien 
Harbor near the village of Chipigana. About 26 miles above 
this village and a mile above the Junction of the river Chu- 
cunaqua are the ruins of the old Spanish fort of Santa Maria, 
near which were the gold mines worked b}^ the Spaniards in 
the seventeenth century. As far as Santa Maria, which is 
the head of navigation for all craft but canoes, the depths in 
the river are from 1 to 5 fathoms; above this point a steam 
launch drawing S^ feet could go onlj^ during spring tides. 

"The spring tides extend during the dry season to some 3 


miles abov^e Pinogana, which is 48 miles by river above Chipi- 
gana, but at this point the flood does not run more than two 
hours, with an extreme rise of 4 feet. During the neap tides 
the rise barely reaches Pinogana, and during the rainy season 
the influence of the tide extends but half the distance, owing 
to the great amount of water to be backed up. 

''By following the bends a deiDth of 'SO feet can be carried 
20 miles above Cliipigana, except at the crossings, where there 
is but 22 feet at ordinary high tide. Above this point the 
channel of the Tuyra narrows considerably and the depth 
decreases. The countiy as far up as Pinogana is flat and 
marsh}^ a long distance back from the river and is overflowed 
during high water in the autumn. 

"The Canal Route by way of the Tuyra ascends this river 
some 40 miles above Pinogana, and then the Cue, a tributary 
from the eastward, to its source ; thence it crosses the divide 
at an altitude of 753 feet above the sea and descends the 
Cacarica or the Peranchita to a junction with the Atrato, and 
then this magnificent, deep, and navigable river, some 40 
miles, to the Gulf of Darien. The difficulties of this canal 
line of 55 miles, with its necessary tunnel of 2 miles, are such 
as to make it quite impracticable. 

"Chucunaqua River, which joins the Tuyra from the 
north at a point 25 miles above Chipigana village, rises in 
latitude 8° 50' N., westward of Caledonia Bay on the Atlan- 
tic; its course appears to have been the favorite track of the 
buccaneers from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Captains Coxon, 
Harris, and Sharp with 330 men in April, 1806, started from 
Golden Island in Caledonia Bay, and on the second day 
reached the head of this river, which they describe as so ser- 
X^entine that they had to cross it every half mile, sometimes 
up to their knees, sometimes up to their middle, and as run- 
ning with a very swift current. On the fifth day 70 of the 
men embarked in canoes, but found that mode of traveling 
quite as wearisome as marching, for at almost every furlong 
they were constrained to quit their boats to launch them over 
rocks, or over trees that had fallen athwart the river, and 
sometimes over necks of land. Early on the eighth day they 
reached Yavisa, which is 15 miles from Santa Maria, at the 
junction of the river of the same name, now the residence of 
the principal authorities of the province. Here they halted to 
prepare for the attack on the fort. They also made paddles 


and oars to row with, for thus far down the river the canoes 
had been carried by the stream and guided by poles, but here 
the river was broad and deep. On the morning of the tenth 
day they attacked and carried the fort, but withont gaining 
the expected amount of ]3lunder, although a buccaneer says, 
^ We examined our prisoners severely.' 

''Savannah River rises in latitude 8° 44' N. and a few miles 
from its sonrce meets the river Loro, where the bottom is 
level with the half tide. Below this point for about 10 miles 
there is a general depth of 1^ fathoms^ excejjt in two places, 
where banks with only one-fourth fathom extend from shore 
to shore; thence to the mouth of the river, a distance of 12 
miles, there is a good navigable channel with a least depth of 
3^ fathoms, except for a stretch of 1^ miles with 2^ fathoms, 
just above the junction of the Rio Ingles. The navigable en- 
trance is about three-fourths mile wide between Graham 
Point and Haydon Bank, the channel narrowing within to 
about three-eighths mile. The shores of the river are low 
mangrove land, skirted with hills 200 to 300 feet high, 
within 2 miles of the banks. H. M. S. Virago anchored in 3^ 
fathoms, 1 mile nortlieast of Graham Point. 

' ' The Darien Canal Route, so called, as surveyed by Com- 
mander Self ridge, U. S. Kavy, in 1870 and 1871, ascends the 
Savannah River 24 miles to the junction of the Loro, and then 
the latter to its source ; thence it crosses a ridge and descends 
the La Paz to the Chucunaqua, crosses the latter, and ascends 
to its source, the Sucubdi, a tributary from the east; thence 
it crosses the divide at about 4 miles from the Atlantic coast, 
with an elevation of 1,003 or 1,259 feet, and descends to Cal- 
edonia Bay by either the river Aglaseniqua or the Caledon. 

"A variation of this route, starting from the junction of 
the La Paz with the Chucunaqua, ascends the latter some 
miles to the Morti, and this river to the divide, with here an 
elevation of 1,137 feet, descending thence to Caledonia Bay 
by the river Sasardi. 

"A canal by way of the Sucubdi would require a tunnel 10 
miles long to connect the elevation of 160 feet on the Atlan- 
tic slope with a corresponding height on the Pacific slope; 
in addition there would be an average cutting of 130 feet for 
10 miles or more, and the Chucunaqua to be crossed b}' a 
costly aqueduct. The route by way of the Sasardi and Morti 
presents results of the same character and no less unfavor- 


able. The impracticability of the Dai'ien route was consid- 
ered bj^ Commander Self ridge as fully established. 

"By the report of the Isthmian Canal Commission the Sa- 
sardi route would require a tunnel 1.6 miles long, assuming 
an open cut to be used to a depth of 400 feet; and if the 
Aglaseniqua or the Caledon were used the tunnel would be 
about 2 miles longer, while the approaclies on the south side 
would be much heavier. The total length of canal naviga- 
tion from Caledonia Baj^ to the mouth of the Savannah River 
would be about 50 statute miles. 

"San Jose Bank, a dangerous shoal in the center of which 
is the Trollope Rock with only 2 feet of water on it, lies in the 
fairway of vessels bound to Panama from the southward, the 
rock being 15 miles N. 88° W. from Garachine Point and 10 
miles S. 62° E. of Galera Island, the southeasternmost of the 
Pearl Islands. The bank is 1 mile in diameter within the 
5-fatliom line and 2f miles long b}^ 2 miles wide within the 
10-fathom line, outside of which the water deepens in general 
quickly; close to the rock are 2f , 3^, and 4 fathoms. Vessels 
should not approach within the depth of 10 fathoms. 

"Marks. — The Trollope Rock msij be easily avoided, either 
by keeping along the main shore until past Garachine Point, 
or by ]3assing about 2 miles from Galera Island, with care 
for the shoal patch and rocks off its southern side. 


"The Pearl Islands, also known as Islas del Rey, Islas 
del Istmo, and Islas de Colombia, form an archipelago con- 
sisting of 16 islands and numerous rocks, covering an area of 
450 square miles on the eastern side of Panama Gulf, the 
northern extremity being 33 miles southeastward of Panama 
city and 15 miles from the nearest part of the mainland. 
Rey Island is the largest of the group; San Jose, Pedro Gon- 
zales, Bayoneta, Casaya, Saboga, Pacheca, and Contadora 
are of secondarj^ and the rest of minor importance. Scat- 
tered among these islands are numerous fishing villages, con- 
taining 1,941 inhabitants in 1843, chiefly engaged in the pearl 
fishery, which formerly produced about 2 gallons of iDcarls a 
year. The pearl shells gathered here, also an article of 
commerce, are known as Panama or Bullock shells, and are 
shipped to San Francisco or Panama in barrels. 

"These islands are low and wooded; the soil is fertile but 


not much cultivated. The numerous cocoanut groves and 
bright sandy beaches, interspersed with small rocky bluffs 
crowned with trees, give them a pleasing appearance. 

"Saboga Anchorage.— This good and spacious harbor, 
about 2 miles long, north and south, and nearly 1 mile wide, 
with an average depth of 9 fathojns, lying at the extreme 
northern end of the archipelago, is formed bj^ three islands 
and numerous islets and shoals. Saboga, the largest island, 
If miles long by an average width of one-half mile, is on the 
southwestern side. From its northern end a reef and shoal 
extend 1^ miles to the northward, protecting the harbor on 
the west. Contadora Island, 1^ miles long and one-half mile 
wide, forms the southeastern side; and Pacheca Island, three- 
fourths mile long and one-half mile wide, the northern side. 
About midway between these two islands is Bartholomew 
Islet, north and south from which extend shoals, protecting 
the harbor on the east side. 

''Channels. — Three channels lead into the harbor, respec- 
tively from the northwest, the east, and the south. The 
Pacheca Channel, southward of this island, is nearly one-half 
mile wide and appears to carry a depth of not less than 5^ 
fathoms in a straight course, but should be more closely ex- 
amined, as there is a deficiency of soundings. Bartholomew 
Islet, on a bearing S. 66° E. (S. 71° E. mag.), leads through 
in about mid-channel. Contadora, northward of the island, 
is at present the deepest and safest channel, carrying a least 
depth of 9 fathoms by keeping the north end of Saboga just 
open of the south end of Near Islet, S. 85° W. (S. 80° W. 
mag. ) . Saboga Channel, between this and Contadora, appears 
to have a 5-fathoni channel, but must be navigated with cau- 
tion, and is not recommended before further examination en 
account of the shoals obstructing the entrance and reported 
shoal patches outside. If this harbor were to be mucli used 
a few buoys would greatly assist the navigation. 

"A considerable village with a church lies on the northeast 
shore of Saboga Island, at the head of a ba}^ filled with a 
shoal and a reef. The usual anchorage is in 7 or 8 fathoms 
at one-half mile off this village. Contadora has 5 fathoms close 
along its northwest shore, which is low and well adapted for 

"Tides. — High water, f ulland change, at Saboga anchorage 
is at 4h. Om. ; springs rise about 14 feet. 


" Chapera and Pajaros, the next islands to the southward 
of Contadora, have a 4-fathoni channel between them, but it 
slionld not be used, as the ground is foul. A 2i-fathoin shoal 
lies three-fourths of a mile eastward of Pajaros, and south- 
ward of this island the soundings are very irregular, with 
rocky bottom. No vessels should attempt the passages 
between Pajaros and Rey islands without i^revious examina- 
tion and marking the points -of the shoals. 

"Casaya, Bayoneta, and Viveros are the largest of a 
cluster of islands on what may be termed an extensive reef, 
about 8 miles long by 5 miles broad, stretching off the north- 
west point of Rey Island. There are also numerous islets and 
rocks rising from the reef, and the passages between them 
all are foul, with occasional strong tides. A bank 1^ miles 
long by three-fourths mile wide, with only 9 feet of water on 
its shoalest part, lies nearly 4 miles eastward of the north 
IDoint of Casaj^a, and the Caracoles and Cangrejo islets, with 
foul ground around them, lie about 2 miles off the northeast 
XJOint of Viveros. 

"Clearing marks. — The entire group of islands stretch- 
ing northwestAvard from the northwest i)oint of Rey Island 
should be avoided by Panama-bound vessels, which should 
not approach the islands on their western side nearer than 
just to open the eastern point of San Jose eastward of Pedro 
Gonzales Island, bearing S. 6° E. (S. 11° E. mag.), and on 
their eastern side should not open San Pablo, an islet off the 
northeast side of Rey Island, or bring it to bear eastward of 
S. 31° E. (S. 36° E. mag.). 

"Rey Island, the largest of the Pearl group, is about 15 miles 
long, north and south, by 7 miles wide, with several i)eaks, 
the highest being 600 feet high. Numerous islets and shoal 
patches, with deep water between them, lie 3 miles off the 
western shore, but should not be approached by strangers 
within the depth of 10 fathoms. Cocos Point, the south 
extreme, is the end of a remarkable promontory, 4 miles long 
b}^ about 1 mile wide, jutting southward into the sea. Its 
extreme cliff was crowned in 1859 by an umbrella-like tree, 
making it conspicuous. 

"Off the eastern shore of Rey are also islands, but they are 
steep-to and may be approached within one-half mile, with the 
exception of Caiias Island, off' which is a 3-fathom patch lying 
outside a sunken rock, nearly 1^ miles from the shore. This 


may be easily avoided bj^ not opening Monge Islet eastward 
of St. Elmo Island until Pablo Islet opens eastward of Muerta, 
a small barren islet lying about 1 mile northward of this 

' ' St. Elmo Bay, on the east side of Cocos Point, is open to the 
southeastward, but has convenient anchorage in all parts, in 
6 to 9 fathoms, and a good stream of water near Lemon Point 
at its head. 

"San Miguel, the principal town of these islands, is on the 
north side of Rey. It is of considerable size, with a conspicu- 
ous church, but is badly situated, landing at low water being 
difhcult. Cerro Congo and Cerro Yali rise southward of the 
town, the former being 481 feet high. Supplies are uncer- 
tain and dear, all productions of the island being generally 
sent to Panama. 

"Anchorage. — Vessels having to lie off the town should 
run in between Caracoles and Cangrejo islets, taking care 
not to shoal the water under 7 fatlioms at low water and using 
caution in the approach, as the bottom is irregular and rocks 
abound; anchor in about 6 or 7 fathoms when the church is 
shut in, or behind Afuera, an islet lying off the town, bear- 
ing S. 29° E. (S. 34° E. mag.). 

" GalIera Island, lying 8 miles S. 81° E. from Cocos Point, 
is small, and, like the point, remarkable for its umbrella tree. 
A cliff forms its southern side, slo]3ing down to a beach on 
the north, and to the southward a reef runs oft' for nearly 1 
mile. This island is generally the first land made by vessels 
bound to Panama; it should not be ax^proached within the 
depth of 10 fathoms, but between it and Cocos Point there is 
a good passage by using which the vessel will be clear of the 
San Jose Bank, 10 miles to the southeastward. 

"Pedro Gonzales Island, separated from the islets off 
the west side of Rey by a broad, deep channel, is of irregular 
shape, with an extreme length, northwest and southeast, of of 
miles by an average width of one-half mile, and has on its 
northern side a wide and deep indentation forming two ba;ys, 
Perry and Magicienne, partially protected on the north bj^the 
small islands Seiiora and Seiiorita. Trapiche Island, 100 feet 
high, which is connected by a sandy neck with Gonzales at 
low- water springs, forms the division between the two bays. 
Off the east point of Trapiche extends a rocky ledge, and 
from this extends a shoal with 14 feet of water at the end, 


nearly 600 yards from the point. Perrj^ 5^ay, wliich lies within 
this shoal and Swift Point on tlie opposite side, is a mile wide 
and penetrates nearly a mile, affording anchorage in 5 to 7 
fathoms, with good protection from wind and sea. 

"A large stream of water, fonnd in full force in the month 
of April at the end of what had been considered a remarkably 
dry season, runs into the sea on the western side of Magicienne 
Ba5^ This bay, however, is small and shoal, liaving only a 
tongue of deep water, 3^ fathoms, projecting three-eighths 
mile within the entrance, with a width of one-eighth mile. 
Seiiora, wooded and 70 feet high, and Seiiorita, small and 40 
feet high, with the shoals off their eastern sides, have an 
extent of about 1 mile, and are separated from Trapiche by 
a 7-fathom channel, steep-to on both sides. 

"Perr}^ and Magicienne bays were examined in 1858 as to 
their capabilities for a depot for steam vessels. Although not 
considered so good and not so near Panama as Saboga anchor- 
age, they were thought to have some advantages. 

"Tides. — High water, full and change, in Perrj^ Bay is at 
3h. 50m. ; rise, 16 feet. The tidal streams are not felt at the 
anchorage, but off the island there is a considerable set, the 
flood running northward and the ebb southward, the latter 
being generally the stronger. 

" Directions. — Vessels may pass on either side of Seiiora 
and Seiiorita Islands, taking care to avoid the shoal eastward 
of them, if passing on that side, by keeping the eastern point 
of Gonzales Island, a rocky peninsula, open of the point next 
north of it, bearing S. 17° E. (S. 22° E. mag.) until Punta 
Piloto, 120 feet high, the north extreme of Gonzales, bears to 
the westward of S. 73° W. (S. 68° W. mag.) ; if entering Perry 
Bay, the shoal off Trapiche may be avoided b}^ not passing 
westward of midway between this island and Swift Point. 

"San Jose Island, lying 4 miles south of Gonzales, is about 
6^ miles long b}^ 3 miles wide, and its summit forms a table- 
land said to be a considerable grazing ground. Nearlj^ 2 
miles southeast from Iguana Point, the north extreme of the 
island, a large waterfall, running into the sea, affords an 
excellent watering place. A deep bay indents the southeast 
side of the island, but the swell sets in there with great vio- 
lence. Off the southern end are a number of high rocks of 
singular and fantastic shapes, also lashed by a heavy surf; 
this part of the island should be avoided. The Avestern shore 


is bold and cliffy, with a small bay near the middle, opening 
to the northwestward. 

"The channel, 6^ miles wide, between Rey and San 
Jose, is foul on the Rey side, but deep and clear on the San 
Jose side, the depths exceeding 20 fathoms for two-thirds the 
length of the island. 

"Passage Rock. — This dangerous sunken rock, with 12 
and 9 fathoms close around it, lies near the middle of the chan- 
nel, otherwise deep and clear, between San Jose and Gonzales 

" Clearing marks.— The peak next south of the highest on 
Rey Island, just open south of Coco Islet, one of the outlying 
islets off the west side of Rey, bearing ¥. 78° E. (IST. 73° E. 
mag.), leads more than one-half mile southward of Passage 
Rock; vessels should keep between this line and the San 
Jose shore. 

"Bound to Panama. — Vessels bound to Panama from the 
northward should make the island of Jicaron, which lies about 
50 miles westward of Mariato Point, and from here endeavor 
to keep under the land as far as Cape Mala, or, if unable to 
do this, push across for the opposite coast, where the current 
will be in their favor. On getting to the eastward of Cape 
Mala, the safest plan is to shape a course for Galera Island 
and use the eastern passage, that between the Pearl Islands 
and the main; if, however, temjjted up the gulf by a fair 
wind, vessels should endeavor to get on the western coast of 
the Pearl Islands, for the reasons noted below^ 

"The passage from the southward into the Gulf of Panama 
is easily made during the greater part of the year by keeping 
about 60 miles from the coast north of Guayaquil, and after 
crossing the line shaping a course for Galera Island, taking 
care, especially in the dry season, to stand inshore with the 
first northerly wind. By so doing vessels will most probably 
have the current in their favor along the coast, whereas by 
keeping in the middle or on the western side of the gulf a 
strong southerly set will be experienced. After making 
Galera and clearing the San Jose Bank the navigation be- 
tween the Pearl Islands and the main is clear and easy, with 
the advantage of being able to anchor should the wind fail 
or the tide be unfavorable. As a rule this passage should 
be taken, but with a strong southerly wind the navigator is 
tempted to run up the bay, in which case he should keep on 


tlie western shoj'e of the Pearl Islands, where less current 
will be found, and ancliorage should the wind fail, an event 
alAA^ays to be expected in these re.i>ions. l^etween Chirambira 
Point and Cai)e Corrientes tlie land is low and faced with 
shoals, caused by the numerous rivers that have their out- 
lets on this part of the coast; but after passing Cape Corri- 
entes it nia}^ be approached faii'ly close except off Solano 
Point, where some rockj- shoal patches extend seaward, as the 
coast is in general bold-to. Care, however, should be taken 
not to run into the calms caused b}^ the high land, as it is 
difficult to get off into the breeze again, and the swell sets 
inshore, where there may be no anchorage until close to the 

"In beating up the Gulf of Panama in the fine season, the 
eastern passage is to be j) referred, as, with one exception, it 
is free from dangers, the water is smooth, and a regular tide 
enables more northing to be made than would be possible in 
most cases against the strong current and short high sea 
Avhich at this season prevail in the middle or on the western 
side of the gulf. During the rainy season a straight course 
up the bay is preferable to becoming entangled with the 
islands, the current generally following the direction of the 

"Bound from Panama. — The great difficulty, however, is 
the i^assage out from Panama Bay. Pizarro, the first to 
attempt this, in November, 1525, after beating about for 
seventy days, Avas forced to return to the river Chiman. 

"The best plan for all sailing vessels, whether bound for 
ports north or south of Panama, is to push to the southward 
and gain the southeast trade. By so doing they will not only 
avoid the doldrums and vexatious winds, but will have the 
additional advantage of salubrious weather, with the sea at 
a temi^erature of 75° instead of 83° F. Between January and 
April it may be better for north-bound vessels to cross the 
line between the Galapagos Islands and the coast before push- 
ing westward, keeping south of the line until westward of 
105° W., when a course may be shaped for 10° IST. and 120"" 
W. , in which track they will probablj^ find the northern trade. 
This will generally prove far preferable to encountering the 
vexatious weather met with at this season north of the 

"The passage to the northward has been made by keeping 


close inshore after passing Cape Mala, and navigating by the 
land and sea breezes; but this should be attenq^ted only b}' 
vessels that are well found and manned, unless bound to the 
ports of Central America, when it is their only route. 

"The passage to the westward during the rainy season is a 
most tedious affair. Calms, squalls, contrar}^ winds and cur- 
rents, a heavy swell, and extreme heat, as well as an atmos- 
phere laden with moisture and rain, are the dail}^ accompa- 
niments. It often occurs that 20 miles of westing are not 
made in a week, and it is only by the industrious use of every 
squall and slant of wind that the passage can be made. 

' ' In the navigation of these regions and of the coasts of Cen- 
tral America and Mexico even small auxiliarj^ steam power 
proves most useful." — West Coasts of Mexico and Central 
America. HydrograpMc Office^ No. 8Jf, 1902. 

"Islands, etc. — There are on the coast and on the banks 
of rivers marshes or ponds more or less permanent and 

"Both the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts are sprinkled 
Avith islands, in some spots so thickly grouped as to consti- 
tute archipelagoes. 

"On the Atlantic side there are some 630 islands and islets, 
with an aggregate area of 147 square miles, of which about 
115 square miles are susceptible of utilization for lumbering 
or colonization. The remainder is waste, unsheltered, and 
lacks both water and vegetation. 

"The islands of this Department on the Pacific coast are 
larger and more numerous than those on the Atlantic side. 
In the grouj) known as the Archipelago de las Perlas the 
principal island is that of San Miguel, which is about 16 miles 
long by 7 or 8 miles wide. The largest island on the coast is 
that of Coiba, a few miles from Bahia Honda, whose greatest 
length is some 22 miles and its greatest breadth is 15 miles. 
These Pacific islands are said to number in all 1,053, with an 
aggregate area of about 500 square miles." — Handbook of 
Colombia, Bureau of American Republics. 

"Between Saboga and Bartoleme islands, in the north part 
of Perlas Archipelago and about 40 miles southeast of the 
city of Panama, is a fine anchorage for a fleet of at least 10 
large vessels.''— Report of Caot. C. B. Hiimplirey, Twenty- 
second Infantry, 1903. 

Ports, Breakwaters, etc. — Colon. — "Colon is located on 


a flat island in the bay of Limon. The main harbor is located 
on the west side of the city. On Point Toro, opposite Colon, 
is located a strong light, about 75 feet liigh, which can be 
seen for about 20 miles at sea. On the iDoint of the island, in 
the city of Colon, is also located another light, about 30 feet 
in height, which can be seen at least 12 miles at sea. 

' ' There is also another bay on the east side of the city of 
Colon. The largest ships may anchor in either one of these 
bays. All along the water front of Colon are located ships' 
piers. In case of storms coming from the north ships must 
leave the harbor and also the docks and proceed to Portobelo 
for protection. There is a iDlan proposed to build a break- 
water at Colon, at a cost of about $1,500,000, to protect the 
harbor. This is quite practicable and would render the har- 
bor safe. Of the two ports, Portobelo is very much the bet- 
ter, but no land communication is to be had with Colon 
except by a trail. 

"ISTo timber exists in the vicinitj^ of Colon, yet a small 
amount of large pine timber could be found in the railroad 

"Small boats could be landed along the shore about one- 
half mile south of the wharves. The anchorage in the har- 
bor off Colon is sufficiently large for almost any number of 
vessels. " — Report of Capt. C. B. Humplirey , Twenty -second 
Infantry, 1903. 

"The harbor of Colon is not by any means a safe one, as 
it is without natural or artificial protection, and during the 
'norther' season — Januar3% February, and March — vessels 
are in danger of heavy damages. The wharves here, which 
are owned and controlled by the Panama Railroad Company, 
are five in number. Four of them are modern steel and iron 
structures and afford ample room to berth twelve ocean-going 
steamers and a number of smaller sailing craft. The harbor 
entrance and the wharf slips have recently been dredged, so 
that vessels of 28 feet draft may be safely docked." — Com- 
mercial relations of the United States loith foreign countries 
during the year 1900. 

Panama. — "Ships which do not enter the harbor of Panama 
northeast of the city or the harbor of La Boca may find 
anchorage on the north side of Culebra Island, where there 
is located a small town. There are three lighters owned by 
the English company, which run from their pier at La Boca 
to the island of Culebra. Anchorage may also be found for 


ships on the northeast side of the island of Taboga. Taboga 
is a very rich and productive island, where the principal 
fruits are grown, such as mangoes, pineapples, and bananas. 
This island is also generally in a very good sanitary condi- 
tion, and in case of an epidemic of yellow fever, smallpox, or 
bubonic plague on the Isthmus the richer inhabitants of 
Panama leave for this island."— i^epor/^ of Capt. C. B. Ham- 
plirey, Twenty-second Infantry, 1903. 

"Every steamer or sailing vessel of high freeboard uiJon 
arriving in port casts anchor to the north of the Flamenco, 
Perico, and Naos islands, which are situated ^^ miles south 
of Panama. The passengers are carried to the wharf of the 
Panama Railway Company when the state of the sea permits 
it, as well as the cargo, which is unloaded in large scows of 
120 to 300 tons each. The same is done in embarking passen- 
gers and cargo. For this service there are at Panama three 
good-sized strong tugboats, called as follows: Bolivar, Ancon 
(which is kept at anchor and in reserve), and Morro. 

"The two former belong to the Panama Railroad Company 
and the latter to the Pacific Steam Navigation Company. 

" It is very easy to obtain coal and water in this bay, as the 
aforementioned companies furnish it to all who ask for it. 

"This bay also has a cistern boat (steamer) called Isahal, 
and owned by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. It has 
a capacity of 47,000 gallons of fresh water. 

"In order to ply the waters of the Bay of Panama it is nec- 
essary to use tide tables, which can be had in the printing 
office of La Estrella de Panama, where they have been pub- 
lished for years, and are comj)iled by seamen who are well 
acquainted with the bay. 

" Between the wall or bastion of Chiriqui, which is situated 
to the east, and the northeast coast the sea runs in a con- 
siderable distance, forming an excellent roadstead, at the head 
of which are situated the public market of the citj^ and four 
large wharves — that of the market, where the coasting trade 
is carried on; the American wharf, alongside which come the 
tugboats and bongos, and where the products in transit or 
brought for Panama from the Pacific coast are loaded and 
unloaded ; the English wharf of the Panama Railroad, w4iere 
the Pacific Steam Navigation Company transacts its business, 
and the coal wharf, where this combustible is loaded in order 
to transport it to Flamenco. 
12312—03 10 


a Tl 

The constant movement in this excellent roadstead of 
hundreds of caiques, scows, sloops, schooners, and tugboats 
which are continually entering and leaving, mostly with un- 
furled sails, together with the noise caused by the engines 
and cars of the railroad and by the carriages and wagons 
which arrive in considerable numbers from the center of the 
cit}^ and leave from the market and wharves, lend this iilace 
the lively aspect nnd air of greatness peculiar to all busj^ 

" Panama at high tide, and seen from seaward, is beautiful 
and looks like a European port.-' — Directory of Panama, 1898. 

'■'La Boca. — Mr. Francis Gudger, vice-consul general of 
the United States at Panama, has furnished a descrix3tion of 
the wharf at La Boca. This wharf was built by the Panama 
Canal Compan}^, but is now controlled by the Panama Rail- 
road Company. The rates charged for vessels coming along- 
side are governed for the most part by contract. 

"The wharf, constructed wholl}^ of steel, with a roof and 
sides of corrugated iron, is situated at the mouth of the Pan- 
ama end of the Panama Canal, about 2^ miles from Panama 
City. During its construction its failure was predicted on 
account of the great rise and fall of the tide ; also because of 
the difficulty of keeping the channel leading to the wharf 
open, as a great amount of mud is brought down bj^ the San 
Juan River. The difficulties have been reduced to a mini- 
mum. Vessels are not lashed alongside the wharf, but have 
floats placed between them and the wharf, so that there are 
no bad results from the tide. The cranes or winches on the 
wharf are of a special kind that permit of working the cargo 
at all stages of the tide. The following measurements will 
give an idea of the size and capacity of the wharf: 

Total length feet. . 985 

Total width do. . . . 54 

Depth of channel alongside at high tide :do 45f 

Depth of channel alongside at low tide do 26^ 

Width of channel alongside do 98 

Cranes (six of 2 tons each, one of 20 to 24 tons) . number- - 7 

Capacity of vessel space feet- - 985 

Tonnage of largest vessel yet docked tons- - 4, 600 

Railroad tracks on wharf ... .number- . 2 

Car capacity of tracks on wharf cars. . 39 

" It is possible to dock any vessel drawing less than 26 feet 
6 inches. 


"In speaking of the channel alongside it might be well to 
exi)lain that this is not exactly a channel, but what is called 
a souille, or basin, in which the vessels lie, and in which there 
is a maneuvering space, at any stage of the tide, of 486 feet. 
The bottom of this basin is soft mud, yet, while it is consid- 
ered best for the vessels to be at all times afloat, they can 
rest easy in the muddy bottom. From the above it is seen 
that any vessel of 500 feet length and not drawing more than 
26 feet can be handled at this wharf with facility." — Monthly 
Bulletin of the Bureau of A'tnerican Republics, August, 1901. 

"A branch of the Panama road runs from the city of Pan- 
ama through the town of La Boca to a large ships' pier in 
La Boca Harbor. 

"It contains facilities for docking 3 large ships at the 
same time. There are 16 steam cranes and 4 electric cranes 
on the dock. On the end of the pier is a large 20-ton crane. 
The rise and fall of the tide is over 20 feet; but owing to the 
dredging which goes on all the time ships can come in at any 
srtage of the tide. 

"Across the Rio Grande from the town of La Boca, about 
700 yards away, can be seen the mouth of the south entrance 
to the canal. The harbor at La Boca and the harbor of Pan- 
ama might be commanded perfectly by artillery placed upon 
the hills between the two places. La Boca is also commanded 
by a hill to the east, shown in the charts, about 1,000 yards 
away. There is a first-class wagon road between Panama 
and La Boca." — Report of Capt. C. B. Humphrey, Twenty- 
secoad Infantry, 1903. 

" Various Ports, etc. — For traveling to any points in the 
interior of the Department, except those between Panama 
and Colon, although there are a few bridle paths, the most 
convenient, cheapest, and shortest routes are by sea or rivers. 

"To the west of the city of Panama are situated the most 
jjopulous and richest provinces of the Department, for, 
although Darien, which is situated to the east, possesses such 
great and varied natural riches that they will Avithout doubt 
render it an emporium when its day arrives, they are not yet 
under exploitation, with the exception of the rich gold mines 
of Espiritu Santo and Cana. 

"To the west are situated the provinces of Code, Yera- 
guas, Los Santos, and Chiriqui, and to the northwest the 
flourishing district of Bocas del Toro, belonging to the prov- 
ince of Colon. 


"Travelers may reach these points as follows: From Colon 
to Bocas del Toro in steamers or in some of the sailing or 
steam vessels which are engaged in the banana traffic. 

"Tlie provinces of Code, Veraguas, Los Santos, and Chi- 
riqni have their harbors on the Pacific oi* on some of the riv- 
ers which empty therein and are navigable for micor craft 
and sailing vessels. Traffic between Panama and these 
I)rovinces is carried on in greater part by sailing vessels, 
except that to Chiriqui Province, where, at Port David, 
steamers touch with considerable frequency, because of the 
growing commerce of that province with and its proximity to 
the Republic of Costa Rica. 

"The province of Code has several harbors, but that of 
Agnadulce is the one preferred, because steamers visit it 
also. The city of Penonome, capital of the province, has for 
its service the harbor of Posada on the river Code. The 
port of Aguadulce will not, however, lose its prestige, and it 
will certainly always be preferred by travelers bound for the 
towns in the iDrovince mentioned (Nata, Anton, Penonome^ 
etc.), and even for the contiguous provinces of Los Santos 
and Veraguas, owing to the advantageous circumstance that, 
as before stated, steamers and large sailing vessels touch 

"The province of Veraguas has the harbors of Montijo and 
Sona on the rivers San Pedro and San Pablo, which empty 
into the Gulf of Montijo and are navigable in their head- 
waters with minor craft and sailing vessels. But since, in 
order to go from Panama to these harbors, it is necessary to 
double the peninsula of Azuero, the port of Aguadulce is 
preferable in going to Santiago (capital of the province). 
From this port (Aguadulce) the traveler goes to Santiago by 
a good wagon road. There are over a hundred wagons at 
Aguadulce to attend constantly to the transportation of pas- 
sengers and freight. 

"The port of Aguadulce, after those of Panama, Colon, 
Bocas del Toro, and Pedregal, is the most frequented and 
visited by steamers. This port is situated in the Gulf of 
Parita, which forms part of the great Gulf of Panama, and it 
is owing to this advantageous position that it serves as a 
stopping place for steamers and sailing vessels. 

"From the maritime salt works owned and operated by the 
National Government at Aguadulce almost all the towns in 
the department are supplied with salt. 



''The province of Los Santos, which is situated on the 
peninsula of Azuero, possesses many commodious maritime 
ports, the principal of Avliich are Cliitre, Las Tablas, and 

"The Pacific Steam Navigation Company dispatches one 
or two steamers every month from Panama, which stop at 
Aguadulce, Remolino, San Lorenzo (when necessary), Sona, 
<Pedregal, and Puntarenas (Costa Rica). 

" For voyages to the archipelago de las Perlas and to Darien 
they put into service coast-trading vessels, which enter and 
ascend the Tuira, a river of great volume and navigable b}" 
steam as far as Yavisa. The Darien Gold Mining Company 
dispatches regularly a steamer to the port of Yavisa. 

"The fares on the sailing vessels to these ports- are as a 
rule very reasonable, vaiying from |2 to $5 per person, ac- 
cording to the class in which the passenger wishes to travel. " — 
Directory of Panama^ 1898. 

Tides. — "The tides vary considerably with the seasons, and 
are much higher at Panama than at Colon. In Colon Bay 
the difference between ebb and flow seldom exceeds 12 or 14 
inches, and is often scarcely perceptible for daj^s together, 
whereas in Panama Bay it is as much as 8 feet in the early 
summer (May and June), when it is least felt, and rises to 
20 or even 23 feet in winter, the average for the year being 
13 or 14 feet — that is, as many feet as inches on the opposite 
side. The consequence is that in an open canal without 
locks no equilibrium could be established, the current con- 
stantly shifting with the alternating tidal currents." — Stan- 
forcVs Compendium of Geography ^ Central and South America. 

(d) CITIES. 

Colon. — "Under the old regime of Spain the only line of 
communication between the two oceans was one simple mule 
path crossing the Isthmus from Panama to Porto Bello, on the 
Atlantic side. Porto Bello Harbor is commodious and deej), 
but the fortifications of the old seaport are now overgrown 
with forest vegetation and the place has become an obscure 
hamlet, occupied by a few hundred negroes, who do a little 
trade with Colon, Colombia, and Jamaica. 

"The deadly Chagres fever raged so there that the port was 
practically abandoned, and Chagres became the Atlantic 



terminus of the isthmian route from Panama. But Chagres 
soon won fame as a hotbed of marsh fevers and the popula- 
tion rapidly disappeared. 

"A new port was founded, therefore, which was called 
Colon, in honor of Columbus, who discovered the bay. It be- 
came known also as Aspinwall, from the name of one of the 
chief promoters of the isthmian railroad. This name in late 
years has been very little used. i 

"After Colon was burned in the revolution of 1885 it was 


M A NZA N / LLO BAY ^^pV]^? 

Vv^^^ >^reHALLOW PT. 




rebuilt on a larger plan and on better drained ground, but it 
is still a very unheal thful place." — New York Sun^ Novem- 
ber 15, 1903. 

"The city of Colon has a ijopulation of about 13,000. The 
mean temperature is 80.6° F. The air is most oppressive 
and saturated with moisture. The city is generally composed 
of miserable frame houses and small stores. At the mouth 
of the canal is a fine statue of Columbus, and near it are 
grouped the houses of the old French company, now unoccu- 
pied, but still in a fair state of repair. Two of these were 


once handsome — the houses of M. de Lesseps and his son. 
At the other end of the city is the large hotel owned by the 
railroad company and about it are grouped many comforta- 
ble houses belonging to foreigners. The other chief build- 
ings are the stations and storehouses of the railroad and 
steamship companies. These could be used as excellent bar- 
racks for troops to the number of 1,200. 

"A great many supplies, such as canned goods, could be 
obtained in Colon. There is a hotel in Colon, run on the 
American plan, which will accommodate about 100 to 150 peo- 
ple. The best drinking water obtainable is from the cisterns. 
Supplies of all kinds could be transported across the Isthmus 
by the railroad. 

"The buildings which might be used as barracks for troops 
have already been mentioned. Near Colon there are really 
no suitable locations for camps, the country being generally 
too swampy about the city. The climate is hot. The rain- 
fall during the rainy season is very heavy. 

"Troops should not be landed from ships in Colon for any 
length of time before operations were to begin. It would be 
preferable to keep them aboard ship. The sanitary condi- 
tion of Colon could be very much improved. At present it is 
very bad. 

"There is an old frame building, covered with galvanized 
iron, two stories in height, above 50 by 70 feet, along the 
railroad in the southern part of the town which was used as a 
railroad station, but it is now occupied by about 75 Colombian 

"The population of Colon is made up of a few Americans, 
who have small stores, quite a number of French, who have 
general merchandise establishments, and a few Jews, who 
are money changers and pawnbrokers. The negro popula- 
tion are generally English subjects and come from the island 
of Jamaica. 

"The railroad trains all have good, energetic American 
conductors and engineers. 

" Coal for ships and for the use of the railroad company is 
shipped from Norfolk, Va. , generally. The railroad company 
generally keeps a supply of about 500 tons. The maximum 
rise and fall of the tide at Colon is 2 teeV—Eej^ort of Capt. 
C. B. Humphrey, Twenty-second Infantry, 1903. 

"At Colon is the ice plant of the Panama Railwaj' Com- 
pany. The output is about 35 tons monthly. Its capacity is 



2 tons per twenty-four liours. The ice is sold atlhe rate of 1 
cent per pound gold, but only to employees of the railroad." — 
Comniercial Eelation.s, 1898 and 1902. 

"There are ami)le quarters; best near light-house or on 
terreplein. IIosi:)ital accommodation, 500; water supply, 
fair. Principal water supply from Frijoles or Monkey Hill. 
All w^ater should be boiled before use. Am^jle stores. Tele- 
graph cable to Jamaica lands over the reef at a hut with shed 
roof near light-house. Landing best made at wharves or to 
leeward of terreplein. As a rule wharves have no steps or 
derricks; No. 7 is an exception; artillery may land on it. 
Landing may be made by a limited number of boats in a 
bight on eastern shore, near Rees Point; it should be ap- 
proached with caution. A cart road leads from this point 
across to town, entering it abreast of Pacific Mail Steamshij) 
wharf. Landing Can also be made from Limon Bay upon 
canal, between kilometer 3 and 4. The beach here is hard; 
nc surf. The causeway and wharves should be guarded. 
Numerous tugs, steam launches, and barges belong to canal. 
Dry dock near canal entrance. The Chagres is navigable for 
boats uj) to Gatun. 

^'Buhio Soldado. — Sixteen miles from Colon; 215 frame 
houses, 120 huts. Small machine shop. Springs of fairly 
good water near railroad station. Telegraph station. 

'^'- V 


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'■^ Gatun. — Seven and one-fourth miles from Colon. Canal 
village on east bank of Chagres; Indian village on west bank. 
Communication with Aspinwall by canal, railway, or Chagres; 



40 or 50 frame houses; average capacity, 8 to 12 men; 150 
huts. Population: White, 75; natives, 1,200 to 1,500. Re- 
pair facilities for small vessels. Water tank for locomotives. 
Potable well and spring water. Telegraph station. River 
not fordable. Favorable position for resisting attacks. No 
bridge over Chagres. Railroad bridge over Gatuncillo, two- 
thirds mile south of railroad station. 

" Frijoles. — Nineteen miles from Colon. Best and largest 
supply of drinking water on the Isthmus. The creek from 
which this is taken should be guarded ; best position for guard 
on Frijole Hill. Steam pumps; water tanks of 8,000 gallons 
capacit}' each. Telegraph office. Only a few frame houses 
and huts. 


'^ Tavernilla. — TAventy-one miles from Colon. Canal vil- 
lage; 40 frame houses; 20 huts. Best site for camp on hill to 
eastward of railroad. Fair supply of spring water. 

'^ San Pablo and Barhacoas Bridge. — Twenty-three and 
one-half miles from Colon. Twenty frame houses; 100 huts. 
Population, 60 whites, 1,800 others. No water in village. 
Spring on hill at Aspinwall end of bridge, 400 gallons a day. 
No telegraph. Barbacoas Railroad bridge over Chagres, 700 
yards northwest of railroad station, built of iron; stone piers; 
is 617 feet long; plank footway between the i-ails. Aspinwall 
end furnishes best site for camp or guard — one of the most 
important on line of transit — should be held by strong guard. 



^^Gorgona. — Twenty-eight and three-fonrtlis miles from 
Colon. Comparatively liealthy. Small springs. No tele- 
graph. Fort}^ frame honses; 350 hnts. Eighty whites, 2,000 
natives, etc. 

Gorgon A. 

''^ Matacliin. — Thirty miles from Colon, 17^ from Panama. 
Unhealthy in late summer and fall. Eighty frame houses, 
capacity 600 to 800; 200 huts. One hundred whites, 1,000 to 


3,000 natives, etc. Spring on east slope of hill. River water 
dangerous. Trail for pack animals between Gorgona, 
Matachin, and southward. Suspension and pontoon bridges 



across Chagres. Chagres here turns to northeast. Strongest 
site for resistance on hill near railroad track, one-fourth 
mile to southward of station. It is unhealthy. Best site for 
camp on hill immediately in rear of railroad station. 

''Gamhoa. — One mile from Matachin. Excellent site for 
quartering men, holding them ready for active operations at 
either end of transit. Exceptionally healthy. One hundred 
huts; 500 native. River supplies good drinking water. 
Bridle path to Cruces (up Chagres) and Panama. River cur- 
rent very strong. 

Lower Obispo. 

" Obispo {lower and upper). — Thirtj^-one and one-fourth 
and 32 miles from Colon. Sanitary conditions unfavorable. 
Lower Obispo, 90 frame houses, 25 huts; 40 whites, 50 natives. 
Upper Obispo, 45 houses, 80 huts; 25 whites, 300 natives. 
Lower Obispo Hill commands river toward Gamboa, path 
from Gamboa to Lower Obispo, and railroad toward Empire. 
Railroad bridge over Obispo River at LTpper Obispo. Upper 
Obispo Hill best site from which to guard bridge. Water 
tank for locomotives. Obispo River supplies fair drinking 

^^ Eraperador {or Empire). — Thirty-six miles from Colon, 
\1\ from Panama. Eight hundred and fifty frame houses; 
capacity, 4,000. Eighty whites, 3,300 natives, etc. Fuel 
abundant. Water brought from Camacho Creek. Best site 
for camp or resistance on hill. Machine shops. Telegraph. 

" Culebra. — Thirty-seven and one-eighth miles from Colon, 



lOf from Panaiiui, The suiniiiit. Strong strategic position. 
Ami:)le qiiartei'S — 800 frame lioiises, 400 huts. Good water 
supply from springs. Machine shoi:>s. 

" Paraiso. — Forty miles from Colon, 7^ miles from Panama. 
One hundred and twentj^-five frame houses, 100 huts. Fiftj" 
whites, 750 natives. Small springs give limited supply of 
water. Telegraph. 

^^ La Boca. — The Pacific entrance to canal, a suburb of 
Panama. Railway connection (back of town) with Panama 


>°/4 C//^/C 

La Boca. 

Panama. — "About 1518 Governor Pedrarias Davila trans- 
ferred to the native village of Panama the episcopal see 
and the civil government, which had been since 1514 at 
Santa Maria de la Antigua, in Darien. 

"The name of Panama is believed to have come to these 
coasts from an aboriginal word which signified "abundance 
of fish," according to several historians, although according 
to others it was derived from the fact that the town was 
founded near some large trees which the natives called 
' Panama. ' 

"Hardly had three years passed after the transfer of the 
ecclesiastical and civil governments to the village of Panama, 
when the latter obtained a city charter from the Emperor 
Charles Y (1521). 

"Panama had a mint, and in 1535 it was made a royal 
audiencia (judicial district). 



"In this city, in 1525, the conquerors Francisco Pizarro, 
Diego de Almagro, and Hernando de Luqne formed the mem- 
orable company to proceed to the conquest of Peru, which 
enterprise the illustrious Pizarro accomplished in 1532. 

"Both ancient and modern Panama were cities which mer- 
ited the name of opulent owing to the extraordinary com- 
merce which developed in the Isthmus, being the point through 
which all commerce between Peru and Spain had necessarily 


to pass until 1746, when navigation about Cape Horn became 

"Although of later foundation than Portobelo, Nombre de 
Dios, and other towns, Panama gave its name to the famous 
isthmus on whose southern coast it is situated. 

"Chroniclers, in speaking of the cities of Panama and 
Portobelo, record the fact that a road paved with flagstones 
connected the two cities. 

"Being the emporiums of commerce between the regions of 


the Atlantic and l^acifie, Panama and Portobelo had to suffer 
repeated attacks, eitlier from Englisli and P'rench pirates or 
from the Spaniards tliemselves, who raised the standard of 
rebellion in Peru and Central America. 

"The ancient city of Panama was situated about 4 miles 
to the east of the city now bearing the same name. Travel- 
ers still find the ruins of that wealth}^ city, although they are 
mostly hidden by an exuberant vegetation. The remains 
of many public buildings are still seen, such as the tower of 
the cathedral, the walls of churches, bridges, turrets, cisterns, 
and part of the pavement of the streets, all covered with enor- 
mous fig trees, pepper shrubs, and numerous yerbas moras 
(a medicinal herb), whose flowers perfume the air with fra- 
grant odors. 

"Modern Panama. — After the destruction of the city 
Governor Fernandez de Cordova resolved to change the site 
and chose for the purpose a short peninsula surrounded bj^ 
steep rocks, easily defended, at the base of Mount Ancon, 
about 5 miles southeast of the destroyed city. 

"The celebrated engineer Alonso de Villa-Corta con- 
structed a fortified town, the like of which does not exist 
am^where else in South America, unless it be Cartagena. 
He surrounded it with very strong walls several yards thick. 
The uneven and rocky ground which w^as inclosed was filled 
in afterwards, so that the surface of the city became smooth 
and level, with an elevation of over 20 feet, there having 
been erected, at each end of tlie front facing the Pacific, two 
colossal defensive bastions, in view of which there was a 
time when it w^ould have been an exceedingly serious and 
dangerous undertaking to attack this city. 

' 'A century ago Panama was considered one of the richest 
and most beautiful cities in the world. The galleons which 
arrived there laden with the rich treasures from Peru, to- 
gether with the continual passage of adventurers and emi- 
grants bound for Peru, rendered it the most frequented landing 
point of all western America. * * * 

"Owing to its advantages and conveniences Panama would 
have continued to progress had it not been for a series of 
causes which started its decline. 

"At the time of the great immigration to California and 
during the period of greatest activity in the work on the 
isthmian railroad the hope was revived that the city would 


return to its former prosperity. It was frequented by innu- 
merable travelers, and its harbors were visited by thousands 
of vessels, but the opening of the railroad between San Fran- 
cisco and the Eastern States of the North American Union 
almost completel}^ exhausted these new sources of wealth. 

"Then came the great fire, Avhich occurred March 7, 1878, 
and which almost entirely completed the work of destruction 
which had been begun j^ears before. 

"Following upon the fire came the epoch of the inaugura- 
tion of the canal in Panama, an epoch of feverish business 
activity, when money flowed in torrents. 

"The city was soon rebuilt and immediately began to 
acquire those buildings, parks, and promenades, as well as 
most of the enterprises, which give it the seal of importance 
and beauty which it now possesses. 

"Unfortunately on June 13, 1894, another conflagration 
destroyed a large part of the northern part of the city, in 
which there were some splendid buildings. However, manj^ 
of them have been rebuilt already and new buildings are 
continually going up, there being a marked tendency nowa- 
days to build of rubble masonry instead of wood, which is a 
constant menace in these hot climates. 

"N^OTABLE Buildings. — The cathedral is situated in the 
principal square, and was begun to be built in 1620. This 
building consists of a spacious principal nave and four lat- 
eral ones, and it possesses a magnificent organ and notable 
pictures and images. 

"The episcopal palace is situated on the north side of the 
cathedral park, and is a large, beautiful building of the re- 
naissance style. Its fagade is elegant and adorned by some 
fine moldings. 

"The government palace is a solid and convenient edifice 
on the southern lateral coast of the mercado (market) cove. 
It faces the north and receives in consequence the breezes 
which come from that direction. 

"The Grand Central Hotel, which is, without doubt, the 
finest of all the private structures, is situated in the cathedral 
park. It has four stories and occupies a quarter of a block. 

"In the same square the Interoceanic Canal Company has 
its offices in another notable building of solid and elegant 
construction, modern style, and four stories. 

"The municipal palace (city hall), a handsome edifice with 


tliree tiers of ^'alleries in its front and of considerable height, 
stands in Cathedral Park also. In its beautiful main hall 
the cabildo (city council) meets and the sessions of the de- 
partmental assembly are held. Other parts of the building- 
are occupied by the C-olumbus Library and the offices of the 
city treasury. 

Charitable institutions.— " The department of charity 
is well attended to in the cities of Panama and Colon, which, 
being the most populous cities in the Isthmus, are the places 
where charitable institutions are most needed. In the city 
of Panama are situated the following: 

'■^Hospital of the canal companij. — This establishment, con- 
sidered the best of its class in South America, was con- 
structed on the best hygienic principles at the expense of 
the original canal company for the exclusive use of the 
employees and laborers in this colossal enterprise. 

"It consists of 18 large rooms, and is attended by the Sis- 
ters of Charity. Each room contains 40 beds. It has a com- 
plete apothecary's shop and, besides, a surgical room supplied 
with all the apparatus necessary in surgical operations. 

"It occupies a charming position, dominating the city and 
the beautiful bay from the elevated position on the sides of 
Mount Ancon where it is built. It is surrounded by gar- 
dens, shade trees, and palms. The excessive heat which pre- 
vails in the city during the hottest months of summer is 
never felt here. 

''^ Foreign liospital. — This hospital, also situated on Mount 
Ancon and built on the same hj^gienic principles as that of 
the canal company, was built under the auspices of the for- 
eigners residing in the city, who contribute to its support. 
It has a capacity for 70 to 80 patients. Foreigners and so- 
journers can secure good treatment in this establishment by 
paying a certain sum, varying according to category and 
service required, but not generally exceeding $1 per day. 

''Santo Tomas Hospital. — This hospital is in the city and 
is a purely charitable institution. It is attended by Sisters^ 
of Charity and governed by a board of five members. 

"The number of Sisters of Charity attending in the hos- 
pital is eleven, one acting as superior. 

" T/ie pesthouse ofPimta Mala. — By this name is designated 
a house on the outskirts of the town where lepers are kept. 
This house is far from being a regular pesthouse, and this 


fact is realized by the Government, which is making efforts 
to found one. For this purpose the decree of January 13, 
1897, was issued, creating the leprosj" board, composed of 
nine members, among them being two physicians. 

"The total number of lepers in the department is 50, the 
number of cases in the province of Panama being 24, in Colon 
21, in Chiriqui 1, and in Los Santos 1. There were only 23 
cases in 1892, of which 18 were in the province of Panama 
and 5 in that of Colon. It is believed on good grounds that 
the great increase was not due to contagion or spontaneous 
coutraction of the disease, but to the immigration of infected 

"T/ie Bolivar Asylum (southern extremity of the Bocas del 
Toro highway). — The Bolivar Asylum is a purely charitable 
institution, founded in this city by the philanthropist. Gen. 
Tomas Herrera, and other gentlemen and distinguished Pana- 
manian ladies. It is an institution of refuge for beggars 
IDrincipally, but its doors are open to all persons unable to 
earn a livelihood or temporarily out of employment, who here 
find shelter and food until they can improve their condition. 
It does not admit insane people or persons suffering from a 
contagious disease. It is sustained mainly by voluntary con- 
tributions, but also receives a certain quota from the profits 
of the Panama lottery. The establishment is spacious and 
well ventilated, and the service and sanitation are good. 
The average dailj^ number of persons sheltered is calculated 
at loo. 

'"'' Orphan Asylum of the Daughters of San Vicente de Paul. — 
This institution, presided over by the Sisters of Charity, was 
founded in 1895 by the Rev. Mr. Parra, who is now bishop of 
Pamplona. He donated to it the building which it occupies. 
Children taken in here are given food, shelter, and a good 
Christian education. 

'^ Asylum of San Jose de Malamho. — This is an establish- 
ment for orphans, founded by Mr. Manuel Jaen in 1889 and 
put in operation in 1890. It is a two-story building, is situ- 
ated in an open, airy place, and can easily accommodate 50 

"Promenades, etc.— One of the interesting promenades 

is the ascent to the top of Mount Ancon, which is 236 feet 

high, and from which a view of the whole city is commanded. 

When its summit is reached, the eye takes in the whole im- 

12312—03 11 


mense Gulf of Panaiiui and its pretty islands, as well as the 
Rio Grande tliroiigliout its whole extent, * * * 

"All the environs of Panama are occupied by extensive 
and beautiful haciendas (farms), where the owners and farm- 
ers pass the hottest part of the summer, for which reason the 
countr}^ is crossed by paths and good roads, through some of 
which carriages can conveniently pass. * * * 

' ' The nearest and most popular summer resorts are Sabanas, 
Taboga, Gorgona, Chorrera, El Valle, Anton, and man}^ others. 
All these places have many clear brooks and enjoj'' an agree- 
able temperature. Provisions are also plentiful, and the milk 
is excellent and cheap. This is a valuable resource, for dur- 
ing the months of December, January, and February the heat 
renders living in the capital very trying. 

"The means of reaching these summer resorts are cheap 
and easy. Taboga is one of the islands situated in front of 
the city, and is reached by sailing vessels in from one to four 
hours, according to the breeze blowing, while in steamboats 
hardly three-quarters of an hour are consumed in the trip. 

"Sabana is reached in a carriage and Gorgona by rail, the 
latter place being situated at an elevated and agreeable i3oint 
on the line. 

"To La Chorrera, El Valle, Anton, and other towns of the 
interior the trip is made via the Pacific to the ports of La 
Chorrera, Capira, Chame, San Carlos, etc., and thence by 
bridle paths." — Directory of Pancmia, 1898. 

"Panama is a city of about 30,000 inhabitants. To the 
northeast of the city is located a small harbor, where small 
steam vessels and schooners may enter at high tide. A gar- 
rison of about 450 well-drilled Colombian troops is stationed 
in the cuartel in the "Plaza des Armas" in the city of 
Panama. These troops, commanded by a Colombian gen- 
eral, drill according to Upton's tactics, and use the same 
bugle calls as those used by the United States Army." — 
Report of Capt. C. B. Humplirey^ Twenty-second Infantry^ 

"Panama is 47^ miles from Colon. Ample quarters; best 
at railroad station. Hospitals for more than 500. Best posi- 
tion for camx) at railway yard and wharf. Ancon Hill domi- 
nates and commands all apjjroaches. Usual garrison, 500 


troops. Boat landing at railroad wharf or beach. Another 
landing at half tide at foot C. de Narino. One revenue cut- 
ter on Pacific coast. Rise and fall of tide, 15 to 22 feet. 

"The time from Panama to New York is seven days; San 
Francisco about tv/enty days. There are two cable com- 
panics in the city, an electric-light plant, and an electric 
street-car line, which runs from one end of the city to the 

" DivaJa. — Divala has an elevation of 538 feet and is sit- 
uated near the west or right bank of the river of the same 

^' David. — David, 60 miles from the frontier, is the ca]3ital 
of the province of Chiriqui, contains about 9,000 inhabitants, 
possesses gold mines and numerous herds, and has excellent 
pasture lands. The elevation of David is 66 feet above the 

" Santiago. — At a distance of 190 miles from the frontier 
we touch the town of Santiago, the capital of the jjrovince of 
Veraguas. Santiago has a population of about 6,000 inhab- 
itants, who are occupied with the extraction of gold, the rais- 
ing of stock, and the fabrication of cotton and woolen goods. 
The town has an elevation of 302 feet above the sea, 

^'Agua Dulce. — Agua Dulce is a village in the Province of 
Code, the capital of which is Penonome, with a population 
of about 15,000 inhabitants. The province possesses a very 
fertile soil, on which flourish large plantations of tobacco, 
cacao, and coffee. 

'^Anton. — Proceeding via Nata and crossing numerous 
streams almost at right angles, but on very nearly level 
ground, the town of Anton is attained at a distance of 248 
miles from the assumed boundary. 

'^San Carlos. — The next important ]3lace touched is San 
Carlos, situated very near the Pacific Ocean, and belonging 
to the Province of Panama. Passing by Chame, Capira, and 
the town of Chorrera, the city of Panama is finally reached 
at a distance of 334 miles from the Rio Golfito." — Report of 
Intercontinental Railway Commission, 1891-93, Vol. I. 

''Nata. — Nata is one of the oldest settlements in America, 
dating from 1512, some time before the name of Mexico was 
known in Europe. 


^'BtKjdha. — ]>iii»iilm, near David, is siliiatcd in tlie vicinity 
of the location of the ohl gi-aves, fnll of gohl ornaments, 
wliicli, in 1860, gave the Chiriqui district a temporary renown 
as a new El Dorado."— iVev/; York Sun, Nocemher 15, 1903. 

'^Bocas del Toro is a thriving town rapidly coming into 
prominence as the point of export for a large district, ricli in 
native products, and with an immense area of unoccupied 
laud, suitable for tlie cultivation of cocoanuts, bananas, and 
other tropical fruits for which the demand is api)arently a 
matter of constant growth. 

"Rice and sugar in the low lands and coffee and cocoa in 
the higlier districts of the interior may also be cultivated to 
great profit and brought to this port by roads over a coun- 
try which offers great facilities for cheap construction and 
eas3^ maintenance. 

"Although the population is made up to a considerable 
extent of natives of the West India Islands, who are British 
subjects, the export trade is en tire! 3^ in American hands, and 
the import tJ^'ade is chiefly American, with slight diversions 
in favor of Jamaica and Colon." — Bulletin No. 33, Bureau 
of American Rep uhllcs. British Consular Reports for 1890, 

"San Blas District. — This district, situated to the north- 
east of Colon, at a distance of about 30 miles, which has not 
been opened to civilization or settlement — as the Indians in- 
habiting its coast and mountains are practically unconquered 
and openly hostile to Colombian rule — is but little known." — 
Colombia. British Diplomatic and Consular Reports of 
Trade and Finance. Report for the year 1899 on the Trade 
of the District of Panama. 


Canals. — "In 1878 the Colombian Government granted a 
concession for building the Panama Canal, and in the fol- 
lowing year M. de Lesseps took the matter up. A company 
was organized, with a nominal capital of 600,000,000 francs 
(1115,800,000), to be obtained by popular subscriptions in 
France, and the work of construction was begun in October, 
1881. The canal was to follow^ much the same route as that 
of the railway" from Colon to Panama. It was to be 54 miles 
in length, the bottom to lie 28 feet below the mean level of 
the oceans, the width to be 72 feet at bottom and 160 feet at 


top, except in the section through the Culebra Ridge, where 
the depth was to be 9 meters (29.52 feet), the bottom width 24 
meters (78.91 feet), and the top width 28 meters (91.86 feet). 
The special difficulties to be encountered were the piercing 
of the Cordillera and the overflow of the Chagres River and 
its tributaries. In January, 1884, a little more than two years 
after beginning the work, but one-thirtieth of the excavation 
had been completed, although during 1883 a force of 11,000 
men was employed. The cost of the work proved to be enor- 
mous, and much of the money, it was claimed, was wasted 
bj^ extravagant management. 

"According to the handbook of Colombia published by the 
Bureau of American Republics, the canal company had 
raised, up to June 30, 1886, the sum of 772,545,412 francs 
(1149,101,264), or 172,545,412 francs ($33,301,264) more than 
the original estimate, and it was then stated that nearly as 
much more would be required to complete the work. Finally, 
in March, 1899, work was stopped for want of funds, and pro- 
visional administrators were appointed by the French courts. 
Various schemes of reorganization were proposed, but little 
of actual importance was effected until 1894." — Commercial 
Directory of the American Bepublics, 1897. 

"In 1894 a new^ company was formed, which obtained a 
concession for ten years, extended in 1900 by six years, so as 
to terminate in April, 1910. By that time the canal, accord- 
ing to the annual report of 1899, might be completed at a cost 
of 512,000,000 francs (120,480,000). On January 4, 1902, the 
board of the company offered to sell to the United States all 
their rights and proi3erty. In view of this offer the United 
States Isthmian Canal Commission recommended the Panama 
route, and on Januarj^ 22, 1903, a treaty was signed whereby 
the United States obtains a lease of the necessary strip of land 
for one hundred years, renewable at the pleasure of the United 
States. The treaty between Great Britain and the United 
States, signed November 18 and ratified by the United States 
Senate December 16, 1901, provided for the neutralization of 
the interoceanic canal by whatever route it may be constructed 
and for its use on equal terms by vessels of all nations." — 
The Statesman's Year Book, 190S. 

"The natural attractions of the Panama route lie in the 
combination of a YQvy narrow isthmus with a low summit. 
The width of the Isthmus is less than 35 miles in a straight 


line, while tlie summit is barely 300 feet above mean tide 
whieli, though hii>hei' than the Nicaragua summit, is less than 
half the height of any other which has been investigated. 
Tlie high portion of the Isthmus is limited to a width of about 
6 miles near the Pacific side, and the Chagres River affords 
access by canoe navigation to within 15 miles of tlie Pacific 

" The Isthmus here runs nearly east and west, but tlie course 
of the railroad or canal is from northwest to southeast, the 
Pacific terminus being about 20 miles farther east than the 
Atlantic. The Atlantic port is Colon, and the Pacific port 
Panama. Neither is a first-class harbor. The defect of Colon 
Harbor is its exposure to strong northerly winds, which, though 
rare, occur for periods of a few da^s everj^ year, and while 
they iDrevail ships may go to sea for safety. Panama Harbor 
is a roadstead, behind islands, at the head of a great bay. 

"The old Panama Canal Company, organized in 1879, pro- 
jected a tide-level canal, 47 miles in length, between the two 
oceans. Five miles were in the coastal plain near Colon, 24 
in the valley of the Chagres, 6 in the hills which form the 
divide, 7 in the valley of the Rio Grande, a small stream run- 
ning from the hills into Panama Bay, and 5 in the harbor ap- 
proaches. Two principal difficulties were encountered: The 
line of the vallej^ of the Chagres involved an excavation be- 
low the bed of the river, which rises in the mountains east of 
Panama in a district subject to violent rains and at times 
floods its entire valley; the passage of the divide in the Cule- 
bra region involved an excavation of unprecedented dimen- 

' ' Before the stoppage of work by the old French company the 
scheme of a tide-level canal was abandoned, and various plans 
for a canal with locks were proi:)osed, the summit level being 
I)laced at different heights, the highest being 160 feet above 
mean tidr', to which high level it was proposed to i)ump the 
water. The new French company adopted a scheme in which 
the summit level of the canal is placed at a minimum eleva- 
tion of 97| feet, approached by 4 locks in each direction, to 
be supplied with water from the upper Chagres, impounded 
by a dam at Alhajuela and brought through a conduit 10.4 
miles to the canal at Obispo. By this arrangement the exca- 
vation in the continental divide was reduced within such 
limits that it was thought the work could be finished in eight 


"By the construction of a dam across the Chagres at I>ohio 
the river between tliat i3oint and Obispo was converted into 
a lake of sufficient dimensions not to be seriously affected by 
flood discharges, while diversion channels were to be con- 
structed on both sides of the canal from this dam to the sea. 
With a carefully designed system of sluices and controlling 
works the violence of the floods was to be checked by 
impounding the water both above the Alhajuela dam and in 
Lake Boliio, so as to keep the flow below the Bohio dam 
within the capacity of the two diversion channels. The 
adoption of this scheme b}^ the French engineers in prefer- 
ence to a simpler plan, which was fully discussed b}^ them., 
was determined by the limits of time to w^hich the company 
was restricted. As the conditions would be different if the 
canal were constructed by the United States, the commission 
has adopted a simpler plan, avoiding complicated construc- 
tions like the conduit for the summit supjDly of water and. 
making the regulation of the floods as nearly as possible 

"With the change from the tide-level canal to a canal with 
locks, a third problem was added to the other two — the sup- 
ply of water for the summit level. The only available source 
of suj^ply is the Chagres River. This brings the water su^)- 
ph' into such intimate relation with the control of the flood 
discharge that the two become practically^ one and must be 
treated together. The discharge of the Chagres at Bohio 
varies from a minimum of about 350 to a maximum of over 
100,000 cubic feet per second, the extreme flood discharge 
being about 300 times the low-water discharge. The esti- 
mated requirement for the operation of the canal, with an 
annual traffic of 10,000,000 tons net register, is 1,067 cubic 
feet per second. The discharge of the Chagres exceeds this 
in some years for every month, and in all years, except for a 
short period in February, March, and April, provision must 
be made for the storage of enough Avater to supply the defi- 
ciency during these three dry months. The best storage place 
for this water is in the lake formed in the valley of the Cha- 
gres, making it of sufficient depth to allow the needed supply 
to be drawn off without lowering the level enough to impede 

"The greatest flood of which there is any record occurred 
in 1879. From the imperfect information we have it has been 


estimated that it may liave reached a maximum discharge of 
75,000 cubic feet per second at Gamboa, and 110,000 at Bohio. 
There is no record of any other flood in which the discliarge at 
Bohio exceeded 80,000 cubic feet per second, while the floods in 
which it exceeds 50,000 are at such rare intervals that their 
effect on navigation would not be serious. The works should 
be so designed that a flood of 70,000 cubic feet per second 
would produce no currents which would interfere with navi- 
gation, the limit of such currents being fixed at 3 feet per 
second, and that a flood of twice this amount, or a discharge 
of 140,000 cubic feet per second, while it might temporarily 
suspend navigation, should not injure the structure of the 

"No location suitable for a dam exists on the Chagres 
River below Bohio, and while this location is not without dif- 
ficulties it has the great advantage that about 3 miles south- 
west of the dam, near the head of the Rio Gigante, a tributary of 
the Chagres, there exists an excellent site for a spillwa}^ by 
which the discharge from the lake could be kept well away from 
the dam and accessory works. The height of this spillway would 
regulate the height and area of the lake. After careful con- 
sideration the Commission has decided to fix this height at 
85 feet above mean tide and to make the spillway in the form 
of a fixed weir 2,000 feet long. At elevation 85 the lake has 
an area of 38| square miles, more than 1,000,000,000 square 
feet. The height of 5^ feet from the crest of the weir to the 
elevation required to pass the maximum discharge would rep- 
resent the impounding of more than 6,000,000,000 cubic feet 
of water. While in the absence of complete data exact cal- 
culations can not be made, computations giving reasonably 
approximate results indicate that no flood has yet occurred 
which would raise the level of the lake more than a few inches 
above elevation 90.5 or create a discharge over the weir exceed- 
ing 89,000 cubic feet per second. 

"The extreme possible effect, however, of along-continued 
flood, with a discharge of 140,000 cubic feet per second, for 
which there is absolutely no precedent, as all great floods are 
of short duration, will be to raise the water over the spillway 
to elevation 92.5 and to produce a current of from 5 to 6 feet 
per second in the narrow parts of the lake. Calculations 
have been made of the amount of water required to supply 
the deficiencies in the three dry months. An assumption of 
a minimum average discharge of 630 cubic feet per second 


for ninety days, which is the record of the driest year, gives 
an aggregate deficiency of 3,398,100,000 cubic feet below the 
required supply of 1,067 cubic feet per second, which corre- 
sponds to a depth of about 3 feet over the whole area of the 
lake. Under these extreme conditions the level of the lake 
might therefore be lowered to elevation 82. This represents 
a range of 8 feet from elevation 82 to elevation 90 in Lake 
Bohio during navigation. Any rise above 90 would mean 
nothing more than a swift current for a limited distance, and 
any fall below 82 would mean a temporary decrease in the 
depth of Waaler in the canal. 

"The overflow of Lake Bohio would discharge through the 
Giganta spillway into the Pena Blanca Swamp and thence 
into the Chagres near the point where the Chagres has aban- 
doned its old channel and now flows through the canal exca- 
vation made by the old company. It is necessary to con- 
struct a new channel of large dimensions west of the canal to 
take the Chagres. An alternate plan would be to leave the 
present canal to carry off this water and construct the canal 
on a new location farther east. A feasible location has been 
fouad which, besides keeping the canal safely away from the 
Chagres, is 1^ miles shorter than the original French line. 
The old location has, however, been retained in these esti- 
mates, the canal being enlarged to meet the new dimensions 
adopted by the Commission. This involves a new channel 
from the Marais de Peiia Blanca to the Marais de Agua Clara 
and a continuous levee for 5 miles along the line of the canal. 

"The canal, as thus projected, may be described as follows: 

"The excavation begins at the 6-fathora line in the harbor 
of Colon, with a bottom width of 500 feet, and slopes of 1 on 
3 through the bay and lowland 2.62 miles, of which about 1 
mile is inside the shore line, forming a narrow, protected har- 
bor. The estimated cost of this entrance and harbor is 

" From the inner end of the harbor the bottom width of the 
canal is 150 feet, the side slopes of 1 on 3 being retained for 
1.96 miles through the swamp, after which they are reduced 
to the standard used in firra earth. This level extends 12.56 
miles to the Bohio locks. Its estimated cost is $10,718,288. 
At Bohio is located a double flight of locks, having a total 
lift varying from 82 feet at the minimum level of the lake to 
90 feet at the maximum, 45 to each lock, the normal lift being 
85 feet. These locks are on the location adopted by the 


Frencli company. Tlie estimated cost of this iiiglit of double 
locks, four lock chambei's in all, is $10,082,345. 

"Above the locks the canal enters the artificial lake formed 
b}^ the Bohio dam and known as Lake Bohio. For tlie first 
7 miles it is a broad, deep body of water, affoi'ding room for 
anchorage as well as navigation. J]eyond this some light 
excavations are necessary. At the upper end the channel 
would be enlarged to provide for the flood discharge of the 
Chagres, being given a minimum section of 50,000 square 
feet. The length of the channel in Lake Bohio is 12.59 miles 
from the locks to the point where it enters the cut through 
the divide. The estimated cost of this section is $2,786,449. 

"^N'ear to the entrance to the summit cut would be placed a 
pair of gates 100 feet wide, so that if it should become neces- 
sary to draw off the water from the summit cut the level of 
Lake Bohio would not be affected. These gates would be at 
the site of a lock i)roposed l)y the French company, near 
Obispo, with a foundation on hard rock. The estimated cost 
of these gates is $295,436. 

"The summit cut is 7.95 miles long from the Obispo gates 
to the Pedro Miguel locks. The highest point is about 5 
miles from the Obispo gates, where the bottom of the canal 
is 274 feet below the natural surface of the ground at the 
sides of the cutting. This is the famous Culebra cut, though 
the name has often been applied only to the mile of heaviest 
work. There is a little ver^^ hard rock at the eastern end of 
this section, and the western 2 miles are in ordinary materi- 
als. The remainder consists of a hard indurated claj^, with 
some softer material at the toj) and some strata and dikes of 
hard rock. In fixing the price it must be rated as soft rock, 
but it must be given slopes equivalent to those in earth. 
This cut has been estimated on the basis of a bottom width 
of 150 feet with side slopes of one on one. While the cut 
may not be finished with this uniform slope, this furnishes 
as correct a basis of estimate as can now be arrived at. The 
entire cut would be lined with masonry Avails, finishing at ele- 
vation 92, 2 feet above high water, these walls having nearly 
vertical faces and furnishing benches 38 feet wide on either 
side of the canal, on one of which the Panama Railroad would 
be laid, while it is probable that a service track would be 
placed on the other. 

"Much has been said about the instability of the Culebra 


cut. In point of fact, there is a clay in the upper jjortion of 
the deep cnt which flows readily when saturated, but which 
will give little trouble if thoroughly drained ; probably nine- 
teuths of the material would naturall}^ be classed as hard 
clay of stable character. It would weather somewhat, and the 
surface might require some repairing with concrete in bad 
places, a practice common in deep cuttings in Europe. This 
clay disintegrates rapidly in water, and for this reason the 
canal prism should be confined between masonry walls. With 
the provision made for broad benches on each side, on which 
any slight slides would be arrested, it is confidently believed 
that no trouble would be experienced. The estimated cost 
of the 6.02 miles of heavy work is $41,940,480, and of the 
entire 7.95 miles between the Obispo gates and the Pedro 
Miguel locks, 1544,378,335. It would probably take eight 
years to excavate this section of the canal. 

"The Pedro Miguel locks will be similar to the Bohio locks, 
the aggregate lift varying from 54 to 62 feet. There is an 
excellent rock foundation here. The estimated cost of these 
locks, including an adjacent dam, is $8,496,326. 

"A level 1.33 miles long extends from the Pedro Miguel 
locks to the last lock, which is at Miraflores. The normal 
elevation of the surface of the water is 28. The estimated 
cost of this section is $1,169,611. 

"At the end of this level would be located the Miraflores 
Lock, with a lift varying from 18 feet at high tide to 38 feet 
at mean low tide. There is a good rock foundation for this 
lock. A spillway would be required to regulate the height 
of this level. The estimated cost of this lock and spillway is 

" For 4. 12 miles beyond the Miraflores Lock the canal extends 
through a low swamp country through which the Rio Grande 
runs. Occasional rock is found here, but the material is 
generall}' very soft, and the canal has been estimated for a 
bottom width of 1 50 feet, with slopes of 1 on 3. This brings the 
canal to a point known as La Boca, where the Panama Railroad 
Company has constructed a large and substantial wharf. A 
dredged channel 200 feet wide, with slopes of 1 on 3, would 
extend here 3.6 miles to the 8-fathom line in Panama Bay. 
The first 2 miles of this dredged channel are through flats 
whichjare bare at low water, where there is a considerable 
amount of submerged rock. The total cost of this section 
from the lock to deep water is estimated at $12,366,914. 


"Besides tlie works enibmced in the excavation of the canal 
itself, tliere will be five outlying works wliich must Ije con- 
sidered. These are the Bohio dam, the Gigante spillway, the 
diversion of tlie lower Chagres opposite Gatun, the diversion 
of the Gatuncillo east of Gatun, and the diversion of the 
Panama Railroad around Lake Bohio. 

"The Bohio dam is the most important structure on tlie line. 
A dam of either earth or masonry is feasible, the latter being 
the more expensive. The French iDlan contemplates a dam 
of earth. It has been decided, however, to use the masonry 
t373e for the purpose of these estimates. The foundation 
must be carried to rock, the deptli to which has not yet been 
estimated at all points, though the maximum is known to be 
not less than 128 feet below mean tide. The estimated cost 
of such a dam is 1)8,500,000. 

"The Gigante spillway, which is a structure of considerable 
magnitude, is very simple. There is a good rock foundation 
at or above tide level for the entire length of this spillway. 
It would consist of a masonry dam with a crest at elevation 85, 
terminating in an apron at elevation 65, with a solid founda- 
tion below this level, the apron being anywhere below the pres- 
ent surface of the ground. The foundation below elevation 65 
would be put in first, and before the flow of water through 
the present river at the site of the Bohio dam is checked. 
The water after passing over this spillwaj^ would flow across 
the country about a mile to the swamp known as the Marais 
de Pena Blanca. The elevation of the surfcvce of this swamp 
is now 22.3 feet, so that the water would have a fall of 42.7 
feet in this mile, which fall would be materiall}^ reduced in 
extreme floods bj^ the backing up of water in the swamp. 
Plans have been jjrepared for this spillway, and the estimated 
cost is $1,121,524. 

"A channel must be cut from the Marais de Peiia Blanca to 
the Marais de Agna Clara, the cost of which is estimated at 

"A channel was cut b}^ the old canal company to divert the 
Chagres from the canal opposite Gatun. This channel, how- 
ever, is of very inadequate dimensions, and a new channel, 
part of which will be an enlargement of the present one, 
should be cut here. It should have a cross section of 10,000 
square feet. Rock would be encountered in its excavation, 
and its cost has been estimated at 11,929,976. 


"A diversion channelj intended to take part of the waters of 
the Chagres, was constructed by the old company along the 
east side of the canal at Boca Grande, back of Colon. This 
cut across the Gatuncillo near Gatun and the portion of it 
north of this point is available as a new channel for the 
Gatuncillo. Some work must be done on it, especially at the 
crossing of the Panama Railroad, where the piers for a new 
bridge are completed. The cost of putting this channel into 
service is estimated at 1100,000. 

" From Bohio to the Obispo gates the Panama Railroad must 
be rebuilt for lo-J miles on an entirely new location, with a 
bridge across the Chagres below Gamboa. An estimate 
made from approximate profiles indicates that the cost of 
this diversion will not exceed $75,000 a mile, or $1,162,500. 
From the Obispo gates the railroad would be carried for 6 
miles on the bench formed b}^ the retaining wall on the east 
side of the Culebra cut, these 6 miles being estimated to cost 
'$10,000 a mile, which includes onlj^ track laying, ties, and 
ballasting. Beyond this will be a mile of light work, esti- 
mated at $25,000, while the main track will have to be raised 
for 2 miles farther, at a cost of 120,000. Combining these 
figures, the total cost of the diversion of the Panama Rail- 
road becomes $1,267,500. 

''Summing up the several figures already given, the total 
estimated cost of completing the Panama Canal is as follows : 

Colon entrance and harbor $7, 334, 673 

Harbor to Bohio locks, including levee 10, 718, 288 

Bohio locks, including excavation ._.,_. 10, 982, 345 

Lake Bohio ^ 2, 786, 449 

Obispo gates 295, 436 

Culebra section 44, 378, 335 

Pedro Miguel locks, including excavation and dam 8, 496, 326 

Pedro Miguel level- 1,169,611 

Miraflores locks, including excavation and spillway 5, 720, 363 

Pacific level 12,366,914 

Bohio dam . . 8, 500, 000 

Gigante spillway 1, 124, 524 

Channel between the marshes 1, 448, 076 

Chagres diversion 1, 929, 976 

Gatuncillo diversion 100, 000 

Panama Railroad diversion 1 , 267, 500 

Total 118, 618, 816 

Engineering, police, sanitation, and general contingencies. _ 23, 723, 763 

Aggregate 142, 342, 579 


' ' This estimate is for the completed project. A canal begnn 
upon this plan maj^ be opened to navigation before its final 
completion. If single instead of double locks be used, and 
the bottom width be made 100 instead of 150 feet, the cost 
will be reduced 120,401,364, and the estimate becomes 
1115,941,215. — Inferoceanic Canal, Senate Report 1337, part 
U, 1901. 

"A canal is being built from the Chanquinola River, about 
18 miles from I>oeas del Toro, to Almirante J^a}^, opposite 
Bocas de Drago, the concessionnaire of which is Mr. N. T. 
Snyder, the owner of nearlj^ 4,000 acres of banana land in 
Chanquinola. This canal is about 8 miles in length, and 
will open to commerce a wide area of the richest banana coun- 
try in the world, of which about 6,000 acres are already cul- 
tivated and bearing fruit. — Commercial Relations, 1902. 

"Water Transportation.— The port of Panama, situated 
on the west side of the bay of that name and located at one 
of the most interesting geographical positions in the Ameri- 
cas, if not of the world, is of the greatest importance. It is a 
halfway station on the higliwa}^ of commerce between Europe 
and Asia, yet it has no direct line to the Asiatic ports. Bj 
the way of Colon and the Panama Railroad it is connected 
with Euroi3e and with the eastern part of the United States 
by many steamship lines, to wit: Tiie Royal Mail Steamship 
Company (mail line, British); The Royal Mail Steamship 
Comj)any (cargo line, British); Comjpagnie Generate Trans- 
atlantique, of Saint-Nazaire (French); Compagnie Generale 
Transatlantique, of Havre and Bordeaux (French); Com- 
pagnie Generale Transatlantique, of Marseilles (French); 
West Indies and Pacific Steamship Comx3any, of Liverpool 
(British); The Harrison Line, of Liverpool (British); Ham- 
burg-American Packet Company, of Havre and Hamburg 
(German); The Colombian Line, of New York (old Pacific 
Mail Steamship Company, United States) ; Compaiiia Trans- 
atlantica, of Barcelona (Spanish) ; The Italian Line, of Genoa 
(Italian). The fleets of these companies aggregate some 65 
vessels, some of which are among the finest sailing across the 

'^ South American Steamsliip Company. — This company has 
steamers leaving this port everj^ other week bound for Chile, 
the termini being Panama and Valparaiso, a distance of some- 
thing over 3,000 miles. The itinerary of the line is as fol- 



lows: Buenaventura, Tuinaco, Esmeraldas, Naliia, Manta, 
Cayo, Bellenita, Guayaquil, Tumbes, Payta, Techura, Pimen- 
tel, Eten, Pacasmayo, Selaverry, Chimbote, Samanco, Casma, 
Huarmey, Supe, Huacho, Callao, Corro Azul, Tambo de 
Moro, Pisco, Lomas, Chala, Quilea, Mollendo, Ilo, Arica, 
Iquique, Tocopaoilla, Tobija, Antofagasta, Taltal, Chanaral, 
Caldera, Carrizal Bajo, Huasco, Coquimbo, Valparaiso. The 
steamers of this line call at all of these places. The regular 
ports of call for the largest steamers are Guaj^aquil, Techura, 
Pimentel, Callao, Mollendo, Iquique, and Coquimbo. The 
distance from Panama to Guayaquil is 800 miles; from 
Guayaquil to Callao, 600 miles; from Callao to Iquique, 650 
miles, and from Iquique to Valparaiso, 800 miles. This com- 
pany secures its coal from Corral, some 400 miles south of 
Valparaiso, where splendid coal deposits are found. 

"The fleet of this line is composed of the following vessels: 


Imperial . . 
Mapocho. - 



Itata - 

Copiapo . - . 

























Lim.ari . 
Chilian . 
Biobio - . 
Aquila . . 
Lircai -. 
Matile .. 
Pudeto . 





"Only the largest of these vessels come to this port, viz, 
the Aconcagua, Imperial, Mapoclio, Maipo, and Cacliapoal. 
The other steamers, especially the small ones, do coastwise 
service and ascend the rivers as far as possible, so that from 
Valparaiso to Panama there is not a port of importance in 
Chile, Peru, and Ecuador that can not be reached by one 
of these vessels. 

"The passenger (first-class) rates are, from Panama to 
Guayaquil, £13 15s. (166.81); from Guayaquil to Callao, £20 
($97.32); from Callao to Valparaiso, £11 17s. 6d. ($57.79); 
from Panama to Valparaiso, £31 17s. 6d. ($154.63). 

"The rates to all intermediate points are somewhat propor- 
tional to distance. The passenger traffic is considerable both 
ways. The line is controlled by Chilean capitalists. 

"T7ie Pacific Steam Navigation Company. — This is an 
English corporation (limited), with headquarters in Liverpool. 
It runs steamers all over the world, but has a distinct line 



doing service with Valparaiso, from wliich port it runs a spe- 
cial line of steamers to Panama. The fleet is composed as 
follows : 











2. 394 













"These steamers make trips fortnightly regularly and work 
somewhat in conjunction with the South American Steamship 
Company, although they are distinct lines under different 
managements. There was a time, not so very long ago, when 
they ran a powerful competition, but they have pooled their 

"The termini of this particular line are Valparaiso and 
Panama, but it runs a steamer regularly to Puntas Arenas 
and back, princiiDally for the cattle business. The itinerarj- 
of this company is identical with that of the South American 
Steamship Company. The rates for passengers (first class) 
from Valparaiso to this place and intermediate points, and 
vice versa, are identical with those of the same company-, as 
are the rates of freight. 

"This company owns in the Bay of Panama an island called 
the "Little Toboga," leased from the owner for a number of 
years. On this island thery have waterworks, which furnish 
them all needed water (spring) for their steamers. They 
maintain in this bay a small steamer called the JioD'o, of 170 
tons, to suppl}^ their vessels with water. This lease is exceed- 
ingly valuable, as the water is excellent and, so far as known, 
the only spring water in this part of the world. 

^^ North American Navigation Company. — This company 
has a fleet comi:>osed of the following vessels : 




St. Panl - 


606. 61 




Keweenaw . 



Progreso . 


"This company was organized early in 1893 in San Fran- 
cisco by some of the leading merchants of that i)lace, in 
opposition to the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. It 
operates in conjunction with the Panama Railroad, through 
bills of lading being given from San Francisco direct to New 
York via Panama and Colon, and vice versa. All the vessels 
are chartered from eastern parties for the term of one year, 
and the line is controlled by Capt. W. L. Merry, president 
of the companj^, with general offices in San Francisco. 

"It has no accommodations for passengers (first class) and 
does- not pretend to carry any, unless iipon exceptional oc- 
casions, and then only as deck passengers. It carries a large 
amount of freight both from San Francisco to Panama, and 
vice versa. It broke the monopoly which the Pacific Mail 
Steamship Company had enjoyed on this coast for many 
years. The trips are somewhat irregular, there being no fixed 
dates for arrivals or departures, but so far they have aver- 
aged two trips per month each way. The rates of freight, 
owing to the competition with the Pacific Mail Stearaship 
Company, are verj^ low and irregular. They charge what 
they can get — sometimes less than a cent per pound, often 
only $2 per ton. 

"The ships of the North American Navigation Company 
make the trips direct from here to San Francisco and return, 
calling on rare occasions at Mexican and Central American 
ports. The distance from San Francisco to Panama is 3,940 

" T/ie Pacific Mail Steamship Company. — This company has 
been supplying service between San Francisco, the Isthmus, 
and New York for nearly half a century. It is not as power- 
ful in these regions as it once was, but promises ere long, if 
all signs do not fail, more than to regain its former usefulness 
and greatness. It is doubtful if it will ever have a foothold 
south of Panama, nor does it seem to care for any. In fact, 
it has not protected its own coastwise trade north of Panama, 
as it has allowed the Pacific Steam Navigation Compau}^ (Brit- 
ish) to encroach on its domain, thac line now having a steamer 
doing service at the expense of th^ Pacific Mail as far north 
as Puntas Arenas, in Costa Rica. This service promises not 
to stop there, and it would not be surprising to see the Pacific 
Steam Navigation Company steam all the way to San Fran- 

12312—03 12 



Cisco, unless the Pacific Mail gives iruicli better service than 
it now gives. 

"The fleet of the Pacific Mail Steamsliii3 Companj^ on this 
route consists of the followini>' vessels: 














2, 143. 23 







City of Sydney 

Costa Rica 

1 548 41 


San Jose 

Acapulco . - 

San Bias 





San Juan 

Barracouta (Brit.). 


1 4(X) 


"The last four are doing coasting service as far up as Aca- 
pulco. They do not go to San Francisco. The itinerary 
of the company is as follows: Puntas Arenas, San Juan del 
Sur, Corinto, Amapala, La Union, La Libertad, Acajutla, 
San Jose de Guatemala, Champerico, Ocos, San Benito, 
Tonala, Salina Cruz, Puerto Angel, Acapulco, Manzanillo, 
San Bias, Mazatlan, and San Francisco. 

"The main points and their distances from Panama are: 
Corinto, 740 miles; San Jose de Guatemala, 990; Acapulco, 
1,590; Manzanillo, 2,140; San Bias, 2,225. The distance 
between Panama and San Francisco is 3,920 miles. 

" When the coffee ceases to move, one of the coasters is with 
drawn from the route, and it then serves as a coal ship in the 
Bay of Panama. 

"The Barracouta sails under the English flag. 

"Three steamers leave San Francisco for Panama — on the 
8tli, 18th, and 28th of each month. They return from Pan- 
ama to San Francisco on the 9th, 19th, and 29th of each 
month. The coasters leave Panama on the 10th and 29th of 
each month, and they aim to make about one trip per month 
for each vessel, but this is not very regular, owing to the dif- 
ficulties in loading and unloading at the different places in 
Central America and Mexico, the system of lighterage being 
in vogue at almost all these ports, there being no piers. — 
Commercial Directory oftJie American Republics, 1897-98. 

"In 1901-2 on the Pacific coast the steamship lines engaged 
in the isthmian transit trade were (1) the Pacific Mail Steam- 
ship Compan}^ (American) from San Francisco, Mexican, and 
Central American ports; (2) the Pacific Steam Navigation 
Company (British); (3) the Campaiiia Sud Americana de 


Vapores (Chilean) from Valparaiso and other Chilean ports, 
Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. 

"On the Atlantic coast trading to Colon are (1) the Royal 
Mail Steam Packet Company from Southampton and the 
Leyland and Harrison Line from Liverpool, both represent- 
ing British trade; (3) the Campagnie Generale Transatlan- 
tique from Havre, Bordeaux, and St. Nazaire, representing the 
French trade; (4) the Hamburg-American Line from Ham- 
burg, representing the German trade; (5) the Campania 
Transatlantica de Barcelona from Barcelona, representing 
the Spanish trade; (6) the Panama Railroad Company's 
Steamship Line from New York, representing the United 
States trade. — Monihly Bulletin of the Bureau of American 
EejniNics, August, 1903. 

"Roads. — The country between Panama and "Panama 
Viejo " is very rolling and grown with grass, affording fine 
pasturage for cattle. Along this road the countrj^ would also 
afford excellent camping facilities for large bodies of troops. 
The water supply of Panama at the present time is very poor, 
the only good water being stored in cisterns in the city. 
Water is also drawn from wells along the railroad near the 
city, but this is exceedingly impure. — Report of Capt. C. B. 
Humphrey, Tiuenty- second Infantry, 1903. 

"The Sabana road, leading out of Panama, near rail- 
road station, forks a short distance outside of town. The 
east branch leads to Puerto Bello, the other to Cruces and 
Gorgona. From the latter, jusb east of Cardenas River, 4^ 
miles from Panama, a path leads off westward to Chorrero, 
crossing the old line of railway between Pedro Miguel and 
Rio Grande stations, then up the left bank of the Rio Grande 
above canal and railroad. One and one-half miles northeast 
of the Rio Grande station the Cruces-Gorgona road forks, 
one branch leading to each village. That to Cruces does not 
again approach the railroad, but terminates in the valley of 
upper Chagres at Cruces. The Gorgona road beyond the 
fork crosses the railroad two-thirds mile northwest of Em- 
pire and continues to Gorgona, about one-half mile dis- 
tant from the west side of railroad. A trail continues to 
Matachin. A trail leaves the Cruces-Panama road a short 
distance south of Cruces and crosses the railroad one-fourth 
mile south of Obispo station. It crosses the Gorgona road 
about 1 mile northward of where the latter crosses the rail- 


" San Miguel Region. — The line of our survej^ f rom Pan- 
ama was along the mule trail to Chepo; for the first few 
miles over a moderately rolling and mostly open country, 
thence to Juan Diaz River, skirting or crossing the foothills 
from the central range, from the sloping plain rather, the 
occasional flat ground heavily timbered and mucky in parts 
from the late rains. 

"From the Juan Diaz to the Pacora pretty much the same. 
The axial cordillera does not run out si3urs to the Pacific. 
Those spurs range only a short distance from the main mass — 
wooded, their declivities at an arable pitch — and sink into a 
very moderately sloping plain apparently 12 to 15 miles wide. 
The line of the trail is three-fourths in open prairie. Manj' 
large hard- wood trees in the forest. The subsoil a red or red- 
dish yellow, loamy clay, underlain by massive clay rock — that 
is to say, rock in thick beds— solidified shale, as packets of 
mouth glue becomes solidified. It is a better country than 
that passed by us between David and Panama — than the last 
200 miles of it, at least; better soiled and timbered. The 
wide plain above noted, bountifully w^atered by perennial 
streams, is really, because of erosion, a series of hardly 
ridges except here and there, but heaves or spits, turtle- 
backed, generally open grass land, inclined just right for 
drainage and merging in a flat, adjacent to the sea, 3 or 4 
miles wide, composed of the fine wash from the upland and 
heavily wooded. We found it hard baked and sun-cracked 
wherever bare of grass. There was a continuous crack 2 to 
4 inches in width along the middle of every trodden path, 
however it might wind or jog. The petrified hoof holes 
showed it to be soft in the rainy season. 

"From Pacora the trail ran northeastward in order to get 
uphill and follow a ridge crest. Thence across a rolling- 
tract watered by afftuents of Rio Chico it won the village of 

"Chepo village is on high ground, healthful, and free from 

"We studied the coast attentively down to San Miguel 
Bay, there, as farther east, observing that it was character- 
ized by sea plain and knolls or short ridges, both isolated 
and in clusters, quite detached from the cordillera except at 
the Chiman. From our night's anchorage at the mouth of 
Rio Trinidad we discovered a saddle in the spur above Chi- 


man village permitting transit from that river southeastward. 
At San Miguel Bay the surprise awaited us of finding a clear 
vista northwestward up Congo River toward Chiman, and 
that the hills between Buenaventura and Punta Brava were 
outstanding, an unexpected event. 

"On the northern side of San Miguel Bay no obstacle 
appeared. A depression in the low ridge dividing Darien 
Harbor from the estuary of the Savana River admitted the 
proposed railroad line to a crossing of that stream, which we 
selected 5 miles below its confluence with the Lara, after 
an exploration by canoe. 

"The section at high tide was as follows: Beginning on 
fast ground west side, thence 600 feet of mangrove thicket, 
depth of water gradually increasing to 10 feet; thence 1,000 
feet, deepening to 40 feet; thence 300 feet, shoaling to 85 
feet; thence 100 feet, shoaling to mangrove swamp awash; 
thence 500 feet flat to fast ground on east side. Mean range 
of tides, about 15 feet. Bottom bluish mud, into which, at 
the river margin, we were unable to churn doAvn a sharp and 
heav}^ pole more than 15 feet. Commander Eastman remarks, 
concerning this estuary, that the bottom is generally mud, 
a few exceptions of rock and gravel, but that 10 feet under 
the mud rock would probably be found. 

"From Rio Chico southward the greater portion of the pro- 
posed railway line would pass through forest, probably 
full half of it would be in forest between Panama and 
Yavisa." — Report of the Intercontinental Railway Commis- 
sion, Vol. II. 

"David to Panama. — We resumed field work at David Sat- 
urday, January 21, 1893, and, by way of the public trail, gen- 
erally used as a thoroughfare through San Lorenzo, San Felix, 
Tole, La Mesa, Santiago, Aguadulce, San Carlos, Chame, 
Capira, and Chorrera, arrived at the railroad station in Pan- 
ama Thursday, February 16, a distance of 292 miles from the 

"The trail on the whole is fairly direct, but in detail de- 
vious and sometimes tortuous, seeking to traverse detached 
ranges of settlement on the sabanas and ridge-crest passages 
between them through the forest. 

"The Isthmus on the Pacific side, from David to Panama, 
may be topographically summarized as mountains, sloping- 
plain, and sea flat. The mountain rose first. The plain was 


derived mainly from it and spread out under water. The sea 
flat Avas similarly derived from the plain after its emergence 
and built up in the coast shallows above tide level. 

" This uniform make is interrupted by spurs from the Cor- 
dillera at Tole and La Mesa and by the approach of the Cor- 
dillera itself to the Pacific near Capira. - The plain, too, has 
been defeatured by erosion and is masked to some extent by 
lofty hummocks and hogbacks, fragments of the ancient 
mountain mass. 

"The geolog}' is variegated clay, red or ruddy yellow at 
the surface, gray below, underlaid by shale in massive beds, 
weathering black where exposed. 

"The country is w^atered by numerous streams, almost 
without exception clear, lively, stony bedded, and firm 
banked. Timber for railroad use is abundant. The same 
may be said of stone for masonry if concrete be included in 
tnat item. Material for dry walls is scarce. 

"Perhaps those who shall utilize our work hereafter Avould 
be best served by more particular sketch of our observations. 

"From David to Rio Chorcha the line is nearly all in prairie,, 
well populated by native Indians. It passes through forest 
only at the stream crossings, but the prairies themselves — 
various in width and a little undulated lengthwise — are lakes 
of grass, bordered by irregular shores of forest, so that the 
view was bounded by woods on ever}?- hand as we went along. 

"Between Chorea and Boca del Monte the trail held the 
crest of a sharply serrate ridge in close wilderness, with under- 
growth of palms and platanitos, issuing at the latter point on 
ridge prairies, which extended thence in widening and declin- 
ing expanses to level plain at San Lorenzo. 

"Between the rivers Fonesca and Tupi the topography is 
irregular and hummocky. There is prairie for about 2 miles 
approaching Rio San Juan and for about 5 or 6 miles ap- 
proaching Rio Viejo. 

" From the vicinity of Remedios to that of Tole another 
jagged profile through forest exists on the line of the trail, 
ending in sharp ascent. 

"Between Callejon Summit and Rio Cobre the country is 
comparatively rough and uninhabited. 

"La Mesa, as the name implies, is seated on a high plain, 
which declines verj^ slowly eastward and drops off at the end 
so fast as to necessitate a little development [for railroad 


location] near the Vacoi. Thence toward Santiago, crossing 
affluents of the San Pedro in a wide, scrubby flat, another 
marked characteristic of the Pacific plain is found. Near all 
those tributary channels the surface was pitted by rainfall 
over considerable spaces, 10 to 15 feet deep. The harder 
layers being cemented by some solution of iron, those pitted 
areas had the exact likeness of hematite ore diggings. 

"From Santiago a wide swell of grassy plain, drained right 
and left, carried us by imperceptible descent to the Rio Santa 
Maria, Thence to Aguadulce there were long reaches of 
low undulation, with shallow, dead flat, lake-lil^e basins on 
either hand around which the trail detoured. A dark-green 
water weed covered them, showing that they might be ponds 
during the rainy reason. 

' From Aguadulce the trail bore northeastward to Nata, 
passing to the left of an outlying clump of hills. 

"Arrived over easy ground at Anton; we followed the trail 
to the beach and the beach to San Carlos; had not tide pre- 
vented would have followed it to the vicinity of Chame to 
make speed. It is the usual highway when tide permits. 
Much of the land along this part of the coast bluffs into the 
sea — clay bluffs 50 to 80 feet high, containing beds of rounded 
cobbles, and shingle cemented with clay, and standing ver- 
tical or nearl}^ so. 

" Capira Mountain, south of the river so named, is ap- 
proached by way of a series of low saddles in spurs from the 
main cordillera. It necessitates an ascent of 550 feet and a 
descent of 331 feet to a crossing of the river. It exjjoses beds 
of clay rock harder than that found farther west, and is 
cumbered with blocks of the same material and bowlders 
of volcanic origin. Heavy timber reappears in this locality. 

"It is plain going from Capira River to Chorrera. 

"Future expeditionary parties for surve3M:>etween Punta 
Arenas and the Atrato country should be so timed, manned, 
and distributed as to complete the work in the summer sea- 
son, say December to March, inclusive. This allows the 
month of November for drying the ground and carries nearly 
to the end of fair weather. Even in January and Februar}^ 
we encountered hog wallows barely passable — some not pass- 
able — necessitating tedious detours. A few days' rain would 
have the effect of seriously impeding, if not actually block- 
ing, field work. This memorandum is of great importance. 


'"J'lie river Santa Maria flows eastward into the Gulf of 
Parita through a wide valley, I'eceiving its principal tributa- 
ries from the southern slope of the eordillera. The Rio 
Grande, its neighbor eastwardly, appeared to draw its sup- 
plies direct from the interior of the Isthmus, which in that 
quarter looked much broken, hummocky, and comparatively 

"Between Nata and Chame the oxhorn thorn abounded. 
It is chestnut-brown in color. Twin thorns alternate, 1 inch 
apart, on the stems and twigs of a shrub thinly foliaged, its 
leaves similar to those of the honey locust. The most perfect 
thorns have a height of If inches, a spread of 2| inches, and 
taper continuously on curved lines from an elliptic section at 
their juncture half an inch wide and a quarter deep. They 
curiously justify the name given them. Near the points a 
small hole is found in each thorn, permitting the passage of 
little reddish ants, who first consume the pith filling of the 
thorns and then inhabit the hollow. They discriminate unerr- 
ingly between the push of the wind and that of hand, paw, 
or claw, and swarm out promptly to repel the intruder. 
Their bite is instant, multitudinous, and hot — somewhat like 
nettle sting, but the pain does not last long. 

" In that same region, on saucered plains annually ponded 
by rain, were numerous abandoned ant hills, as we supposed, 
of a light granite-gray, having the appearance of cemeterj^ 
monuments. They range from low cones 4 to 6 feet in diam- 
eter at the base and 2 feet high, through every variety, con- 
cave and convex in outline, of low cone surmounted by peaky 
cusp, the larger ones rising to heights of 8 and 10 feet above 

"Our march along the seaside between Anton and San 
Carlos was enlivened by the great company of pelicans — 
sometimes at rest on bowldery jetties, sometimes on the 
water, all of them taking wing when a shoal of fish appeared. 

"The i^lains of Chame are of gray and white clay with 
disseminated shingle and cobbles, large beds of them scat- 
tered about. The surface of the country is clawed by drain- 
age as if by spread fingers of an enormous hand struck in 
and gradually drawing together. The general surface is 
about 100 feet above the channels of the larger streams. 
Mist flowers were in blossom there, and morning glories, crim- 
son, white, blue, and yellow, together with compound tints; 


oxhorn thorns a plenty. Also climbing ferns, with very 
delicate little fronds, festooned the trees or hung withered in 
long tassels. North winds from the Caribbean Sea blew 
gusty during the forenoon. They were slackened in the 
afternoon by counter-currents from the Pacific, but prevailed 
again in the evening. The plains are diversified by islands 
and capes of low forest. There are few settlers between the 
Chame villages and Chorrera. The latter place is a summer 
resort about 20 miles from Panama — the largest town on our 
line between David and that city — its population a motley of 
Spanish, Indian, and negro. 

"Approaching Panama we found many Jamaica negroes 
stranded by abandonment of work on the canal. Some of 
them were charcoal makers, others market gardeners; most 
of them ugly featured and rather surly in expression, but 
civil in speech and bearing, and in appearance thrifty." — 
Report of the Intercontineyital Railway Commission^ 1891- 
1893, Volume II. 

Railroads — The Panama Railroad. — "Mr. William As- 
pinwall and others obtained a charter from the State of New 
York on April 7, 1849, and undertook the construction of the 
Colon-Panama Railroad. The undertaking was beset by nu- 
merous difficulties, the more serious of which w^ere the exist- 
ence at the Atlantic end of some 6 miles of continuous swamp 
which had to be ballasted, the relatively high altitude of the 
Culebra Pass, over which the line w^as carried, and the pre- 
valence of landslides at this latter point. Work was com- 
menced toward the end of 1850, and it took the pioneers fully 
two years to complete barely 23 miles of road. Two j^ears 
later they had advanced 20 miles farther to the Culebra Pass, 
and on January 27, 1855, the line was completed and inaugu- 
rated. Altogether its cost was some £1,600,000, or approxi- 
mately £34,000 per mile. 

"The concession granted to the company and the contract 
entered into between them and the Colombian Government 
in 1850 was, on August 16, 1867, or nearly thirteen years sub- 
sequent to the completion of the line, superseded by those 
under which the company is now working, ^y the terms of 
the present agreements the Colombian Government concedes 
to the company exclusive i)rivilege for a term of ninetj^'-nine 
years (expiring August 16, 1966) a practical monopoly of all 
roads across the Isthmus, the cession in perpetuity of 158,144 


acres of waste lands (to be increased to 237,216 acres, if that 
quantit}^ be disposable within the limits of tlie ancient prov- 
inces of Veraguas and Panama), the exemption of its proper- 
ties from taxes of all and every description. In retnrn for 
these concessions the company bound itself to pay the Colom- 
bian Government a sum of $1,000, 000 purchase money and 
an annual contribution of $250,000, to transport gratuitously 
all national troops, equipage, arms, mails, and State-protected 
immigrants to the number of 2,000 per annum. At the 
expiration of the concession in 189G the entire plant and 
annexes become State x>i'C)perty. All the conditions of the 
concessions have been strictly observed. 

"The comimny's plant consists of 26 road and 11 switch 
engines; 5 special, 8 first-class, 16 second-class, and 7 baggage 
cars; 580 box, 136 coal, and 183 flat freight cars; 57 other cars 
of various descriptions, 1 movable steam crane, and a pile 
driver; 3 steamships, with an average burden of 2,730 tons 
apiece; 3 steam tugs, and 24 lighters, with adequate mole 
and x^ier accommodation at both Colon and Panama; offices, 
stores, workshops, and a number of other edifices. 

"The company has contracted to erect at a cost of $1,000,000 
a pier at the mouth of the river Grande, the Pacific outlet of 
the canal, a short distance to the west of Panama, with a 
view to permit the loading and unloading of cargo directly 
from a vessel to the cars. Dredging oi)erations are being 
executed at this point, and with the removal of about 106,000 
cubic feet of solid rock the channel leading up to the pro- 
jected mole will be deep enough to admit the entry of such 
ocean-going ships as at present call in at this port. It is 
expected that the mole will be completed and open to traffic 
during the latter ]3art of 1898. The actual size, 984 feet by 
52^ feet, is wholly inadequate for present traffic, and when, 
as is asserted, only the open-sea side will be available for 
shipping, its value and importance sink into insignificance." — 
Colombia, British Diplomatic and Consular Reports, 1896. 

By rail from Panama to Colon. — "The Panama Rail- 
road has American rolling stock, 5 feet gage, and is a first- 
class line. All the engines and cars were manufactured in 
the United States. 

"The railroad runs in a general northeasterly direction 
from Panama to the station of Corozal, 3.03 miles distant, 


through a mangrove swamp. The capacity of the railroad 
siding at this station is 44 cars. 

"From Corozal all the way to Culebra Station the railroad 
runs up grade. 

"The next station, Rio Grande, is 4^ miles from Panama, 
and has no railroad siding whatever. The number of inhab- 
itants, about 75, are principally Jamaica negroes. 

"The next station of Miraflores is 5.5 miles from Panama, 
and has a railroad sidetrack, with capacity of 55 cars. Popu- 
lation, about 100, principalh^ Jamaica negroes and Chinese. 

"The next station, Pedro Miguel, is 6^ miles from Panama, 
and has a sidetrack capacity of 24 cars, also a good railroad 
water tank. 

"The next station, Paraiso, 8 miles from Panama, is a 
place of probably 250 inhabitants, principally Jamaica ne- 
groes and Chinese. 

"The next station of importance is Culebra, 11.2 miles 
from the city of Panama. Railroad sidetrack capacity at 
this place, 33 cars. 

"The railroad company have a branch track running from 
near the railroad station, through Culebra Cut, along the 
canal, about 2 miles south. 

"Near Culebra Cut about 200 frame houses are located, 
with corrugated iron roofs, belonging to the French Canal 

"At Culebra and at Empire, about H miles north, the 
French Canal Company are at present working a force of 
about 900 Jamaica negroes on the canal line. 

"Empire is a station 12.75 miles from Panama, having a 
side track along the railroad with a capacity of 45 cars. The 
French Canal Company also own about 50 frame liouses, with 
galvanized roofs, where live the Jamaica negroes who are 
working upon the canal. The population is about 4,000. 

" Near the town of Empire, about 400 3^ards east of the rail- 
road station, is a hill about 251 feet in height, which is well 
intrenched and which was used by the revolutionists during 
the recent insurrection against Colombia to hinder the ad- 
vance of the Government troops in their advance from Colon 
to Panama. A very strong defense was made by the revolu- 
tionists at this place. 

"Las Cascadas, about 14^ miles from Panama, has a side 


track of o(J cars and several large machine storehouses, belong- 
ing to the French Canal Company. Population about 400, 
principally Jamaica negroes and Chinese. 

"Bas Obispo, the next station, is about 1G.5 miles from 
Panama, with a side-track capacity of 9 cars. The number 
of inhabitants is about 200. At this point are also located a 
number of machine storehouses and frame houses belonging 
to the French Canal Company. 

" Matachin is the next station, so called from the fact that 
during the time when the work was conducted on the canal 
by the French canal company in the year 1887 about 2,000 
Chinese workmen who lived at this town died of yellow fever. 
This station is about 17f miles from Panama, and has a side- 
track capacit}^ of 98 cars; also a railroad water tank. The 
number of inhabitants is about 800, principally Jamaica 
negroes and Chinese. 

" Gorgona is the next station, 19 miles from Panama, and 
has a sidetrack capacity of 21 cars. The population is about 

"Mamei is the next station, 21f miles from Panama, and 
has a sidetrack capacity of 93 cars. 

"The next station of importance is Tabernilla, 26 miles 
from Panama, having a sidetrack capacity of 41 cars. The 
number of inhabitants is about 200. 

" The next station is Frijoles, about 29 miles from Panama. 
It has a railroad sidetrack capacity of 49 cars and a railroad 
water tank. N^ear the station are also located a number of 
machine storehouses of the French canal company. 

" Bohio Soldado is the next station, 32^ miles from Panama, 
and has a sidetrack capacity of 70 cars. Population about 
400, negroes and Chinese. 

"The next station is Lion Hill, 37 miles from Panama, with 
sidetrack capacity of about 24 cars. The number of inhab- 
itants is about 200, all blacks. 

" Gatun is the next station, 40| miles from Panama, with 
side-track capacity of 70 cars. This town has about 800 
inhabitants, located on both sides of the Chagres River. 
Easy communication by means of small steamers can be had 
from this station to the coast. The river here is about 10 
feet deep and 150 feet wide. 

" Colon is the next town and the terminus of the Panama 
Railroad, located 47| miles from Panama. In the city of 


Colon the railroad company owns a large two-story office 
building near the railroad station. The side tracks of the 
railroad in this city have capacity of about 620 cars, while 
the side tracks of the railroad company in the city of Panama 
will accommodate 400 cars. There are good railroad water- 
tanks at both Colon and Panama. 

" Culebra is the highest point on the railroad line and is 
about 300 feet above the level of the sea. 

"The configuration of the country and the topographical 
features are well shown on the large map referred to, ' Carte 
de L'Isthme.' 

"About 2 miles south of Colon, along the railroad, is a 
small station of five or six frame houses, near the foot of a 
small hill about 150 feet in height, known as 'Monkey Hill.' 
Artillery placed here would command all approaches to Colon 
from the south. It would also command the city of Colon, 
and, were the artillery of sufficient power, would command 
both the harbors of Manzanillo and Limon Bay. 

"The north entrance to the canal is located about one-half 
mile west of Monkey Hill, and can be plainly seen from the 
top of the hill. All along the railroad and canal line between 
Colon and Panama the country is overgrown with a dense 
underbrush, rendering communication along the trails very 
difficult. There is no wagon road or cart road across the 
Isthmus, only a narrow trail 2 feet wide, with low-hanging 
vines and underbrush over head, quite impracticable during 
the rainy season for travel. There is absolutely no land com- 
munication from either Colon or Panama along the neck of 
the Isthmus with the interior of Colombia. The only com- 
munication had with Bogota or the interior of Colombia from 
the State of Panama is by steamship from Buenaventura 
Harbor on the west coast of Colombia to Panama, while the 
only communication on the Atlantic side is by a steamship 
from either Cartagena or Sabanilla. 

"There is at present communication from Porto Bello Har- 
bor across the Isthmus with Panama, by means of the old 
Spanish mule trail. This trail was at one time in vevy good 
condition, having been paved with cobblestone by the S]3an- 
ish, but it is now in very bad repair, and during the rainy 
season almost impassable for mules and horses." — Report of 
Capt C. B. Humphrey, Twenty -second Infantry, 1903. 


190 notes on panama. 

"Description of a trip by the Panama Railroad. — 
Leaving Colon, we crossed the embankment leading to the 
mainland, the Spanish Main of earl}" writers. On onr right 
there was an immense mangrove swamp, one mass of green; 
beyond the swamp was a little hill; then more lowland. 
The trojncal jungle became thicker and tliicker; in places it 
w^as so thick as to be absolutely impassal)le. Here and there 
were stretches of banana. These Avere interspersed with 
i:>alms and other vegetation. Here and there a native hut 
could be seen on the hillsides. It was not long before we 
were at Gatun. To our right we caught a glimpse of the 
River Ohagres, a peaceful stream in the dry season, but 
often, during the long wet season of the Isthmus, a huge, 
destructive volume of water. The railwa}^ there follows the 
left bank of the river as you api^roach the Pacific. Opposite 
the small station and just across on the opi^osite bank was 
the Indian hamlet of Gatun. In those days (1880) it was a 
mere collection of huts built of bamboos, thatched with 
palms or oleanders. AYe gradually approached the bridge of 
Barbacoas, 612 feet long. The river at this point in the dry 
season is a peaceful, shallow stream, perhaps 200 feet wide. 
During one of the floods of 1878 the vallej" of the Chagres 
was overflowed, and there were 12 to 18 feet of water over 
the railway. Beyond the bridge were trees, unfamiliar to me, 
and creepers in flower; orchids and palms also claimed atten- 
tion. The great luxuriance and density of the vegetation, 
including palms, bamboos, and cottonwoods, became notice- 
able. The Cottonwood especially, a huge tree with tre- 
mendous flanges at its base, is a characteristically tropic 
form of the native flora. 

"Matachin is the midsection of the railway, and there the 
trains crossed. Not far from Matachin on the right is a once 
famous but now forgotten hill. It is named ' Cerro Gigante,' 
or the 'Big Hill,' and from its crest Vasco Nunez de Balboa 
first saw the Pacific in the early morning of September 13, 

"Culebra is the highest point of the railway, 238| feet 
above the level of the Pacific. It is on the crest, or 'divide,' 
as it would be termed in the Rockies. The density of the 
vegetation may be gathered from the fact that rank grasses 
and undergrowth crowded down to the very rails. Men are 
constantly employed in cutting it away. It has been stated 



that if the Panama Railroad remained unnsed for six months 
the whole line would be grown over with tropical jungle. 
Having passed the crest, we commenced descending. In the 
distance we saw Mount Ancon, a small volcanic peak. It is 
just back of the city of Panama. Then we came upon more 
swamps and more mangroves and black soil. Here and there 
were great arms of the sea, or 'sloughs,' as they are termed 
in California. At high water they are filled ; at low water 
they resemble great muddy ditches. The}^ connect with the 
Rio Grande some 2 miles back of the city of Panama. Pass- 
ing a small Indian village on the outskirts of Panama, we 
drew up in the station of the city." — Descriptive Geograijliy 
from Original Sources, by F. D. and A. J. Herljertson, 1902. 
"This YQYy important connecting link between the Pacific 
and the Atlantic oceans has become a part of the assets of 
the Panama Canal Company, but it is operated under Ameri- 
can charter (N^ew York), a board of directors being kept in 
New York City for that purpose. The termini of the road 
are Colon on the Atlantic side and Panama on the Pacific. 
The length of the line is 47 miles, and there are 34 stations, 
to wit: 


Ch. Columbus-. 

Monkey Hill 



Tiger Hill 

Lion Hill. 

Ahorca Lagarto 


Buena Vista 




San Pablo 



Juan Grande... 




21. 55 
22. 98 
24. 45 
25. 86 


Bas Matacbin 


Bas Obispo. _ 

Haut Obispo 

Las Caseadas 



Rio Grande Superior . 



Pedro Miguel 

Pedro Miguel Tank .. 


Rio Grande 






"Panama was not intended to be the Pacific terminus of 
the Panama Railroad. The road was to be built to N'aos 
Island, some 3 miles farther away. It is at or near this 
island that all the steamers anchor, and the Pacific Mail 
Steamship Company has quite an establishment on it. B}" 
the terms of the concession the railroad forfeits annuall}^ 
130,000 to the department of Panama until the railroad 


reaches Naos, or until vessels are enabled to discharge their 
cargoes on the main shore. Steps are now being taken to 
bring this about, the canal company intending to dredge the 
bay at the Pacific mouth of the canal (La Boca) so as to en- 
able vessels of an 3^ size to enter, thus doing away with the 
expensive system of lighterage now in vogue here." — Com- 
mercial Directory of the American Republics, 1897. 





























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No. 9. 
















•^ n, 



Intercontinental Railway.— "Any location that may be 
adopted for a railway along the Pacific slope of the Isthmus 
of Panama would, from the point of leaving Costa Rica to its 
attainment of the Atrato Basin, cross nearly at right angles 
most of the streams emptying into the great ocean. In their 
order, from west to east, the principal ones would be the 
Golfito, which empties into the Gulf of Dulce; the Chiriqui 
Viejo, the David, and the Tabasara, which discharge into 
the Gulf of Alan je; the San Pablo and San Pedro, into the 
Gulf of Montijo; the Santa Maria, into the Gulf of Parita; 
the Chepo, which is navigable for small vessels and empties 
into the Gulf of Panama; the Turia, the principal stream of 
the Isthmus, which discharges into the Gulf of San Miguel." — 
Report of the Intercontmental Railway Commissio)}, Vol- 
ume J, 2?art i, 1891-1898. 

A Projected Railroad. — "A contract has been signed 
by the minister of the treasury of Colombia and Don Pablo 
Pinzon for the construction of a railroad to connect the dis- 
trict of Bocas del Toro and Chiriqui, in the department of 
Panama. The work is to be completed within ten years and 
the concessionaire is to receive from the Government a sub- 
sid}^ of 5,000 pesos per kilometer." — Monthly BuUetin of the 
Bureau of American Republics^ July, 1899. 

Cables. — Communication with the outside world is main- 
tained at Colon by cable via Jamaica, and at Panama via 
Nicaragua and Mexico northward and Buenaventura south- 

Telegraph. — Two telegraph wires along the railroad from 
Colon to Panama belong to the rail^'oad and canal company 
separately. The telegraph offices along the route are : Gatun 
(2), Bohio (2), Frijoles (1), Tavernilla (2), Mamei (1), Mata- 
chin (2), Empire (2), Paraiso (2), Rio Grande (1), Corozal (2). 



"The inhabitants can hardly be classed as belonging 
exclusively to either of the three primal races. They are a 
curious mixture of red, white, and black — crude evidence of 
that lax morality which prevailed here in early Spanish colo- 
nial times. Just how these unfortunate people manage to 
live or why they never had the energy or ambition to better 
their condition nobody seems to know. Yet they are appar- 
ently happy in their life of poverty and wretchedness. They 
have few wants of body or mind. The indigenous plantain 
and banana afford a cheap and convenient substitute for 
bread, and fish from the streams and lagoons and a few yellow- 
legged chickens afford all the meat they want. Occasionally 
one sees an inferior specimen of the domestic pig or a forlorn- 
looking, half-famished donkey and sometimes a few domesti- 
cated ducks; but there are no cows or horses or other live- 
stock, and one rarely sees a vegetable garden. Toward the 
Pacific coast the country is more thickly populated, the 
houses are better, the people look cleaner, healthier, stronger, 
and more self-respecting. 

"The present population is perhaps 400,000, including an 
independent tribe of Indians, who are said to number about 
8,000." — The Colombian and Venezuelan Repuhlics. Scruggs, 

"At present no group of Carib speech is known to inhabit 
any part of the Isthmus, although there are traditions that 
some of the warlike tribes in the central districts south of San 
Bias came originally from the Goajira Peninsula, which is 
still held by a powerful Carib nation. In recent years they 
have nearly all been absorbed in the general population — a 
mixture of Indians, whites, and mulattoes, in which the col- 
ored element is most pronounced. It is due to the large num- 
ber of Jamaicans who were attracted to Panama by the high 


rate of wages on the railway and canal works and many of 
whom afterwards settled in the country. The movement, 
unless arrested, must eventually assimilate the Isthmus to 
those parts of the Antilles where the African element pre- 
dominates. In the eastern districts most of the aborigines, 
such as the Dariens or Papaparos, are extinct. But others, 
such as the Chocos, Queves, and Tules, still survive and con- 
stitute the Cuna family, whose affinities appear to be with 
the Chocos and Baudos of the Atrato and San Juan valleys 
in Colombia proper. (See table, Ch. III.) 

" On the other hand, theVeraguas and Chiriquis, formerlj^ 
dominant in the west, where they still form the bulk of the 
population, have abandoned the tribal system, with the asso- 
ciated usages and traditions, and are scarcely now to be 
distinguished from other Ilispano-Americans of Spanish 
speech and culture. Nevertheless, they had, in pre-Colum- 
bian times, a culture of their own and thus formed a link in 
the chain of more or less civilized nations which extended, 
with interruptions, from the Pueblos of Arizona, through 
Mexico and Central America, into Colombia, Peru, and 

"Like some of the neighboring Costa Ricans, the Veraguas 
of the auriferous district named from them were specially 
noted for their taste and technical skill in the goldsmith's art. 
Throughout the western section of the Isthmus, between the 
Chiriqui Inlet and Panama Bay, occur numerous prehistoric 
huacas (graves or barrows), which have yielded an abundance 
of gold and other artistic objects that had been deposited with 
the dead. Similar graves, some of large size, extend as far 
as the Gulf of Mcoj^a, but the objects found in them — obsid- 
ian, greenstone, and finely wrought jade tools and orna- 
ments, knives, axes, armlets, rings, figures of men and gods, 
etc. — have been ascribed to Aztec influences, or even to the 
Aztecs themselves, who are now known to have ranged from 
Nicaragua into the adjacent parts of the present Costa Rica 
territory. Some of the barrows visited by Colonel Church in 
the district east of Guapiles are 100 feet long, 75 Avide, and 
15 high. 'They appeared to be filled with broken statues 
of men, women, animals, and other objects sculptured from 
volcanic rock. We cut the weeds and exposed an immenes 
statute, which must have been 10 feet high,' besides 'a fine 
life-size specimen of the head of an alligator and one of a 


puma.' But no nieiition is anywhere made of architectural 
remains or of any monuments at all comparable to those of 
the Mayas or Incas. In this respect the culture of these 
Costa Rican and Panama people shows more affinit}^ with 
that of the Colombian Chibchas, who were also famous jew- 
elers and goldsmiths." — Stanford's Compendium of Geog- 
raphy, Central and SoutJi America. 

"All along the railway from Colon to Panama are little 
towns and settlements, but few good houses. The habita- 
tions are thatched-roof sheds with dirt floors, and their 
inmates a curious mixture of red, white, and black. The 
indigenous plantain and banana afford a cheap and conven- 
ient substitute for bread, and fish from the streams and 
lagoons and a few yellow-legged chickens afford all the meat 
they want. There are no cows or horses or other live stock, 
and one rarely sees a vegetable garden. 

"It is necessary to know their language and disposition to 
get along with the jjeople. Civil and kind treatment almost 
assures civil and even courteous treatment in return. Touch- 
ing their sensibilities or wounding their vanity should be 
avoided. Serious disturbances sometimes result from a mere 
thoughtless jest." — The Colombian and Venezuelan Repub- 
lics. — Scruggs. 1900. 

Description of people met with on a journey between 
David AND Panama. — "Our departure from David having 
occurred on a Saturday, we had our Sunday rest at Chorcha, 
a small Indian hamlet 12 miles out, pitching camp near the 
dwelling of Doctor Pecuado, an immigrant Cuban physician, 
who comes hither annually from Panama to pass the summer. 
Mr. Obaldia accompanied us and introduced us to that hos- 
pitable colon3\ The Pecuados were the only white residents. 
They straightway adopted us into the tribe, and in effect 
we slept at camp and ate with the family. The beautiful 
mother would take no excuses. The doctor's farm covered 
450 acres of fertile prairie and bottom, half of it timbered. 
Land-hungry readers may be interested to learn that this fine 
estate cost him just 20 cents, the legal fee for making out 
papers. It is only 2 miles direct from salt water, but the 
crooked river channel across the sea flat necessitates a canoe 
voyage of three or four hours. He cultivates the plantain 
and the cacao chiefly. Said that monkeys lessened his crops, 
as they destroyed more than they ate. Had a tiger hide 5^ 
feet long from muzzle to rump; tail nearly 2^ feet. 


"We made the acquaintance there of another transient 
guest, Seiior Jose Santa Maria Jovenes, one of two young 
bachelor brothers, to whom we are indebted for courtes3^ 
They have a cattle range, wire fenced, on the eastern side 
of Rio Fonseca, probably including 2 square miles. Their 
grant is a tract 12 by 60 miles in area, its boundaries not yet 
marked on the ground nor definitely described in writing or 
graphical plan. It is 47 square miles larger than the average 
size of counties in Pennsylvania. 

"Near Remedios w^e met a party of wild Indians from the 
interior — thick-set, strong-legged fellows. Their faces were 
painted, as if with a fine camel's-hair brush, in thin, black 
lines, a diamond figure inclosing the mouth, three or four 
horizontal stripes across the nose, forehead, and cheeks in 
tir-tat-to diagram, no two alike, of Avhich holiday set-off they 
betrayed a little conscious vanity. They answered our salu- 
tations with pleasant grins and friendh^ gestures. 

"Agricultural Indians, speaking Spanish, peopled the coun- 
try along the line of our surve}' through Chiriqui and Vera- 
guas. In the provincial capitals, David and Santiago, whites 
may have outnumbered them. The field population was 
almost exclusively Indian. They were happily circumstanced. 
IsTumerous villages strung on the trail — singles and clusters, 
variously spaced like beads of a rosar}- — would remind Pacific 
voyagers of the coral archipelagos, each village an atoll with 
oval or circular prairie for lagoon, a girdling reef of cabins, 
then the all-surrounding woodland sea. Like their island 
cousins, before the paleface blasted them, they are for the 
most part in their first childhood as communities, sucklings 
of nature, to whom she bears a milkier bosom than to the 
Eskimo and Fuegan. 

"Their cabins stand apart, within talking distance usually; 
clumps of mangoes and cocoanut in front, narrow plantations 
behind, similar to those of the French Canadians along the 
St. Lawrence, cleared from wildei^ness and sloping to brook 
or river — water convenient being a prime necessity. Peren- 
nial vegetation and a warm, equable climate, tempered by 
ocean winds, countervail the disadvantage of a soil but moder- 
ately rich. Cattle, horses, pigs, goats, and fowls feed at large. 
Every family is well housed, well fed, without toilsome labor, 
and the grown members well and cleanly clad; the wives 
tidy, robust, cheerful helpmates; the naked young broods 

200 notp:s on Panama. 

frisking like colts on tlie gi-eensward. All villages alike are 
scenes of peace, welfare, and contentment. 

"Their social economy, their generons hospitality, their 
good-fellowship, and neighborly virtues have come down to 
them, it is believed, not only from before the * Conquest,' 
but from the pei-iod antedating a previous invasion, probably 
of Phoenician adventurersor immigrant warriors from Atlan- 
tis. These traits, as well as their features, color, and the 
antiquities of their country, bespeak them a race identical 
with our North American Indians, modified in some respects 
by an infusion of Semitic blood." — Report of Tiitercoiitlnental 
Railway Cotnmissioii, 1891-1893, Vol. II. 

"The Talamancans. — Within less than 100 miles of where 
is contemplated the greatest interoceanic ditch the w^orld has 
seen there dwells an Indian nation that is to all intents 
and purposes identically the same to day as it was Avhen 
Columbus first discovered the Western Hemisphere. These 
are the Talamancans, who inhabit a few square miles in the 
mountains almost midway between the two oceans, and but 
a comparatively short distance from the Panama Railroad, 
though it is much to be doubted if they have ever seen it or 
are aware of its existence. 

"For upward of four centuries the mediseval civilization of 
Spain has surrounded them on all sides, but their language 
is still their own and seems to have lost little of its orignal char- 
acter through contact with the execrable mixture of English, 
Spanish, and French spoken by the lower classes throughout 
the West Indies and along the Spanish Main. As they live 
in virtually an unknown region, at least three days' journey 
from the nearest settlement, their solitude is seldom broken. 
The visitor is received with the greatest hospitality^ and is 
welcome as long as he desires to remain. Their visits to 
the outer world are infrequent, rarely extending beyond the 
nearest port, and are undertaken only in quest of luxuries. 

"Extra fowls and porkers are bartered on these occasions 
for tobacco, geegaws, and ammunition. The spear and blow- 
gun are used more than firearms for various reasons. The 
former are not onl}^ infinitely cheaper, but usually more 
effective in the hands of the Indian than the cheap muzzle- 
loading fowling piece of French or German origin with its 
paper-like barrel — the only arm he can afford to purchase 
besides the machete. 


" Their language and customs in some respects resemble 
those of the score or more of widely differing peoples that are 
scattered over the territorj^ Ij^ing between the Mexican bor- 
der and the Isthmus. 

"Their ancestors doubtless served Aztec masters for cen- 
turies before Cortez appeared on the scene to impose a worse 
slavery upon them, for they are not of the superior race of 
which so many reminders in the shape of gold and silver 
ornaments, stone idols, and curious specimens of pottery 
have been unearthed in quantities in several of the Central 
American States, and being the opposite of warlike they 
could easil}^ be held in bondage. 

"They are not idolaters in any sense of the word, nor do 
they profess religion or hold public worship of any nature, 
though their belief tends more to fear of an evil spirit than faith 
in a good one; in fact, the Talamancans present an instance 
of a nation without a doctor, a lawj^er, or priest, the 'sokee,' 
corresponding to the medicine man of the North American 
tribes, usually combining the functions of all three. Polyg- 
amy is the most important feature of their domestic relations, 
few, if any, of the members of the different tribes being con- 
tent with less than three to half a dozen wives, while his 
Talamancan majesty might well exclaim with Launcelot, 
'Alas! Fifteen wives is nothinge.' His seraglio is usuall}^ 
better provided in point of numbers. 

"The government of this Indian nation is entirely heredi- 
tary, and it is astonishing to learn of the many points of the 
doctrine of primogeniture as practiced by the reigning fami- 
lies of Europe with which they are familiar. Their laws are 
naturally few in number, both tlie legislative and judicial 
power, as is usually the case where no fixed principles of 
either have been acquired, being vested exclusivelj^ in the 
king. In common with others in his position the world over, 
he is a despot, and rules according to royal whim where this 
does not conflict with long-established custom. The marital 
relation is held sacred. The engagement of a girl begins 
within a few hours of her birth, the bridegroom to be mak- 
ing a contract with the parents at that time. It is usuallj^ con- 
summated when she reaches the age of 10 or 12, a custom that 
is responsible for great disparity in the age and longevity of 
the sexes. 

"The needs of the Talamancan are iDrimitive to a degree 


characteristic of the early ages of man, and as nature pro- 
vides for him with a bounteous hand his is an existence of 
dreamy contentment undisturbed by thought of the morrow 
or fean of tlie liereafter. The rivers teem with many varie- 
ties of edible fish, and game abounds to a degree unknown 
outside the Tropics, while the soil is so fertile as to give rise 
to the sajing that it will raise pickaninnies. A little corn 
and cassava are planted, and the soil and climate do the rest. 
When they mature, which in the case of corn is four times a 
year, they are prepared in the same manner as that practiced 
by their forefathers from time out of mind. Clothing, whether 
for man or woman, is of the scantiest description imaginable, 
except on gala occasions or a visit to the settlement, when 
the trousers and shirt of civilization are donned by the former, 
the children running about absolutely naked until several 
years old. 

" The Talamancan's hut, which is a masterpiece in the art 
of thatching, is a huge affair, and shelters his entire family 
and all his worldly possessions, including the domestic ani- 
mals, that continually root around the interior during the 
day and retire with him at night. As he is a past master in 
the art of domesticating the wild deer, the peccary, the tapir, 
and even the tiger cat, numbers of these animals are present 
in ever}^ village, taking the place of the motley pack mon- 
grels that usually greet the visitor at such humble settle- 
ments. His bed consists of the trunk of a certain species of 
palm, cut into strips and supported 3 or 4 feet from the 
ground on a frame, and a few earthen pots, with now and 
again an iron one, complete the furnishing of his house. 

"While adept with the spear and deadly bloAvgun, in which 
various of the South American tribes employ poisoned darts, 
he is of the most peaceable nature, and his traditions contain 
no stirring tales of conquest, nor does his conversation boast 
of personal valor, for he knows not war. In short, the Tala- 
mancan is forever at peace with all the world, and only de- 
sires to pursue the even tenor of his wsij unmolested to the 
end of the chapter." — Scieyittfic American, Novemher21, 190S. 



''Gold is obtained from the rivers Marea and Balsas, in 
South Darien. There still lives the tradition of the famous 
mines of Cana or Espiritu Santo, in the neighborhood of the 
Tuira. At one time they were called 'Potosi,' on account of 
the abundance and fineness of the ore produced. There are 
likewise gold mines in the neighborhood of the rivers Code, 
Belen, and Indias, and their tributaries. Of these the most 
noteworthy is that of San Antonio, on the Code, which is 
reported as yielding 140,000 a year. Other mines are found 
at Las Tablas, Las Minas, El Mineral de Veraguas, Sona, 
Lovaina, Gualaca, and San Lorenzo. 

"Salt is found in abundance throughout the department, 
and at man 3^ points its production is more profitable than that 
of gold. 

"Copper is found near San Felix and near the road from 
David to Bocas del Toro. It exists also, there is reason for 
thinking, in the old province of Azuero. 

"Iron is to be found in and about the Cerro de San Cristo- 
bal and in the ancient province of Azuero, according to indi- 

"Coal is found near Las Bocas de Toro and in Golfo Dulce. 

"Mineral waters are found in the districts of Santiago and 
Calobre, near the headwaters of the Chonguinola, near the 
volcano at the foot of the Castillo Mount, near the Chiriqui 
River, in the Mendez Ranch, near the Yeguas Pass, in Pan 
de Azucar, and on the banks of the Gallequi River, near San 

"Pearls are found not only in the Archipelago de las 
Perlas, but in many other spots on the sea bottom, which 
would seem to be almost covered with these precious stones. 
As many as one million shells a year are said to be secured 
by divers, and though all do not contain pearls they are 
available as mother-of-pearl. 



"Chalk and lime also abound in various parts of the 
department." — Colomhia. Bureau of American Republics, 

"In the early days of the Panama Railroad, and later, 
during the canal construction period, numerous efforts were 
made to explore the coal regions of the Atlantic in near 
proximity to the ports of Colon and Panama. These re- 
searches led up to the discovery of bituminous shales and 
lignite near the port of Boca del Toro on the Caribbean Sea. 
Some hopes had been entertained that these deposits would 
give valuable coal, but an examination and analysis have 
convinced me that the veins are too small and the percent- 
age of carbon too low to justify any expectation from this 
source. The largest vein I saw was about 3 feet thick, and 
the analj^sis gave — 

Carbon 40. 131 

Water . 12. 962 

Ash 30.216 

"It will be seen at a glance that the coal has no commer- 
cial value, especially as some of the carbon was infusible and 
noncombustible graphite. Considerable work was done at 
these mines some years ago, but little signs of the excava- 
tions now remain, the opening being filled with debris washed 
in by the waters of the rainy season. These deposits do not 
cover an area of over 10 miles, and are not worthy of more 
than passing mention. 

" On the Pacific, coal measures expose themselves near 
Punta Burica, in Colombia, and the peninsular projection that 
forms the northern inclosure of Golfo Dulce, in Costa Rica. 
The numerous small streams that flow into the gulfito from 
the Cordillera, on the boundary of Colombia and Costa Rica, 
bring down fragments of lignite and coal, showing that they 
pass through large carboniferous deposits. 

"Some work was attempted in these regions (judging from 
openings that are now nearly filled in with debris) many 
years ago, but evidently with meager results, owing to the 
fact that the exploring party did not enter sufficiently far 
into the interior to reach a health}^ carboniferous formation. 
I consider it feasible to mine good coal in these regions at a 
distance of from 15 to 20 miles from the coast, as the crop- 
pings I examined at several points show veins from 3 to 6 
feet thick of bituminous coal embedded in lignite and shale. 


" The carboniferous measures of this locality cover an area 
of about 100 square miles, and are about equal to the coal 
beds of Chesterfield County, Va. 

"This disposes, as far as I have investigated, of the coal 
beds of Panama, with the exception of those of Rio Chu- 
cunaque, aboub 12 miles northwest of Point Mosquito." — 
Monthly Bulletin of the Bureau of American Republics, 
1893-9Jf. Special Bulletin, November, 1893. 


"The department jdelds woods of excellent quality and 
colossal growth, principally in South Darien, though they 
abound also in the mountains along the coasts and in the 
islands of both seas. The following may be named : Cacique, 
corotu, and esj)ave, fit for shipbuilding, and not infested b}^ 
any sort of insect whatever; caimito, hueso, cerezo, macano, 
madrono, naranjillo, bola, and laurel, excellent for polished 
Avork and building, as are also the mora and guaj^acan, which 
are, furthermore, incorruptible; nispero and espinoso, which 
make the best boarding known; mahoganj^ (black, red, or 
veined), rosewood, rosilla, quira, cocobobo, and roble ama- 
rillo (j'ellow oak), which do not rot; roble comun (common 
oak), adapted for ship timbers; el manzanillo (manchineel), 
a building and cabinet wood; jicarrillo, and espino amarillo. 

"Among furniture woods may be named the cedars known 
as ceboila, espina, real, and papaya, all of excellent quality 
and exempt from the attacks of the ' comejen ' (timber worm) ; 
amarillo de Guayaquil, which is incorruptible; algarrobo del 
Peru, ijagua de montana, alcornoque, chuchipate, and cha- 
chojo, all very useful for building; maderon, very durable 
and available for inlaid work; alfahillo, the same; tanjiro, 
similar to mahoganj^; jigna blanca, jigna negra, saponario, 
the leaves and bark of which are used as soap; majagua, 
used by the Indians for making ropes; palo de lana (wool- 
tree), similar to the ceiba or silk-cotton tree, and which grows 
to a height of more than 100 feet, and is used for canoes; 
hobo, a durable and colossal tree; bongo and balso, trees of 
considerable thickness, but very light, resembling cork, and 
used for making rafts; yaya, very durable; mangle, cavalero, 
pena, salado, and Colorado, the last very durable and suitable 
for shipbuilding; culuba, much used for making mats, etc.; 
gachapala and maria, good for masts; murcielago, hobo de 


puerco (6 de cerco), bavigon, liaya, raton, carcun, sibo, and 
terciopelo, all useful to carpeuters, as are also the guayabito 
de raontaiia, cerezo silvestre (wild cherry), pavo, mostrenco, 
and conaza. 

" The following woods used for making dyestuff are found 
in the department: Uvilla, curtidora, divi-divi, dragon's 
blood, tuno, mulberry, Brazilian wood (brasilete), igua, agaa- 
cate Colorado, guayacan, anil araarillo de yuca, carocolito 
(purple shell), muqueva, ojo de venado (black), tagua de 
montaiia (indelible carmine), and nazareno (purple)." — Co- 
lombia, Bureau of American Republics. 


It is reported that mules may be obtained in numbers and 
in localities and in one week's notice, as follows: 

Pedregal . 100 

Puerto Mutis 30 

Mensable 50 

Aguadnlce '. 50 

Chepo 10 

Chorrera 10 

Panama 50 

— Report of Capf. C. B. Humphrey, Twenty-second Infan- 
try, 190S. 


"The department produces cloves equal in fragrance to 
those of Ceylon; palosanto, from which is obtained the famous 
balsam maria; copaiba, caucho, almaciga (mastic), copachi, 
chutra, caraiia, cabima, cateba, croton, palo de sangre, sau- 
medio, jiguacanelo, balsamo de drago, chiriqui, chinchire, 
tustele (^adding rubber, like the caucho), and palo de vaca. 

"Honey and beeswax are produced in great abundance. 

"The following fruits and vegetables are produced on the 
Isthmus, both wild and in cultivation: 

"Aguacate, cacao, coco, pomaroda, mango, mamei del pais, 
naranjo dulce, naranjo agrio, limon, torovijo, maranon, guan- 
abano, membrillo (quince), guayabo zapote, brevo, hicaco, 
anon, hagua, name, uvitoguagabilla, calanva, nispero, cerezo, 
higo (figs), caimito, higo chumbo, granado, papayo, sabio, 


granadillo, ciniela (plum), guate, curubo, pino, pmuelo, 
sapoya, cerenjena (eggplant), tomate (tomatoes), melon, 
sandia, calabaza dulce (squash), and eight sorts of aji (cap- 

"Among the palms of Panama we may note the wine palm, 
the oil palm, the corozo, the royal, the chontadura, the um- 
brella palm, the cabeza de negro palm, the taparro, and the 
cocoa palm, which is remarkable not only for its fruit, but 
for being planted around settlements to protect houses from 
lightning, as it serves as a very efficient sort of lightning 
rod." — Colombia, Bureau of American Repuhlics. 

' ' While coffee is being grown everywhere in the depart- 
ment, 3^et, according to the practical study and experience of 
a Costa Rican, you find the land in the province of Code to 
be the best fitted for the cultivation of this most precious 

*' Cocoa has a great future in the Isthmus, and there are 
already some valuable plantations under cultivation — rub- 
ber, ivory nuts, cabinetmakers' wood, wood for dyeing pur- 
poses, mother-of-pearl and tortoise shell, sarsaparilla, ipeca- 
cuhana, leathers and skins of different kinds. 

"The tobacco produced is of excellent quality, but its pro- 
duction hardly suffices for home consumption. 

" Sugar-cane products and the breeding of domestic animals 
constitute the principal riches of Chiriqui, Los Santos, Code, 
and Veraguas. They lend themselves to the cultivation of 
sugar cane, however, with great ardor, which promises such 
valuable returns through its products. The Same can be said 
of the cereals belonging to their zone, which up to the pres- 
ent time is cultivated for interior consumption." — Directory 
of Panama, 1898. 

"Ice, formerly imported from the United States, is now 
manufactured in Panama, where machinery with a maximum 
product of about 10 tons per day has lately been established. 
The ice is of poor quality, because of an imperfect and filthj^ 
water supply, and is sold at the high price of 5 cents silver 
(1+d.) per pound. Frequent interruptions in the service of 
this important commodity have occurred during the year, and 
many complaints are consequently heard in the commu- 
nity." — Colombia, British Diplomatic and Consular Reports, 
Repjort for the year 1890 on Panama. 
12312—03 14 



Taxes, etc. — "Previous to 1880 the Panama Raihvaj^ had 
been paying to Colombia an annual revenue of 225,000 pesos 
gold, but in that year the income was anticipated up to 
March 27, 1908." 

Exports and Imports. — "There is an important transit 
trade passing between the two ports of Panama and Colon. 
In 1900 the weight of goods transported westward by rail was 
153,758 tons, of which G0,518 tons was from New York, 51:,905 
tons from Europe, and the remainder was in local traffic. 

"The weight carried eastward was 203,619 tons, of which 
118,670 tons was to New York, 77,219 tons to Europe, and 
the rest was in local traffic." — Statesman's Yearbook, 1903. 

"The export trade of the Department of Panama showed 
an advance for 1898 over 1897 of 19 per cent. The items 
showing the greatest percentage of increase are rubber, 
mahogany, ipecacuanha, cocobolo, medicinal balsams, ba- 
nanas, and tortoise shells. The total value of the articles 
sent to the United States was 1777,792.69. Besides the arti- 
cles named the following are included: Cacao, cocoanuts, 
coffee, raw hides, skins, ivory nuts, and mother-of-pearl 
shells. Exports to other countries amounted to $131,733.66; 
to Great Britain, $103,777.09; Germany, $19,437.30, and 
France, $8,519.27. 

"From Bocas del Toro, the seat of the banana industry, 
2,029,021 racimes (bunches) of plantains were sent to the 
United States in 1896. The value of this product at the port 
of shipment was 1405,804. The fruit is convej^ed from Bar- 
ranquilla in small United States steamers to the markets of 
Mobile and New Orleans, the round trip being made in twelve 
days. Fifteen firms in Barranquilla, which has a population 
of 10,000, deal in bananas. From Barranquilla the exports 
amounted to 19, 280, 356. 53, an increase over 1897 of 1670, 303. 57. 
The most important industry in this section is the manufac- 
ture of soap by two factories equipped with the latest appli- 
ances. A Spanish firm recently erected a modern candle 
factory and has a good demand for its goods. Other indus- 
tries are several distilleries, an iron factory, two tanneries, 
with a monthly output of 3,000 hides, and a number of brick 
kilns and tile factories." — Monthly Bulletin of the Bureau of 
American Republics , June, 1899. 


*'The exportation of products has commenced to be quite 
considerable in the Isthmus. Recent statistics demonstrate 
that the exportations equal one-half more or less of the 
importations of the department. 

"The exports are very varied and rich, commencing with 
gold, but the present revenue statistics finds silver at the 
head, which is exported on a large scale from the northern 
shores, especially those of the rich and flourishing district 
of Bocas del Toro." — Directory of Panmna^ 1898. . . 



A. Provinces of the department {political and fiscal). 
[Directory of Panama.] 

Names of the provinces and 
municipal districts. 

Colon (capital. Colon): 

1. Bocas del Toro 

2. Buenavista _ _ 

3. Colon ,... 

4. Chagres 

5. Donoso . - 

6. Gatun 

7. Portobelo 

CocLE (capital, Penonome) 

1. Aguadulce 

2. Anton 

3. LaPintada. 

4. Nata — 

6. Ola 

6. Penonomet- 

Chibiqui (capital, David): 

1. Alanje 

2. Bugaba 

3. David 

4. Dolega 

5. Gualaca 

6. Los Remedios 

7. San Felix 

8. San Lorenzo 

9. Tole 

Los Santos (capital, Pese) 

1. Chitre.. 

2. Guarare 

3. Las Minas 

4. Las Tablas 

.5. Los Santos.- 

6. Macaracas 

7. Ocu 

8. Parita 

9. Pedasi 

10. Pese 

11. Pocri 

12. Santa Maria 

13. Tonosi 

Panama (capital, Pana- 

1. Arraijan 

2. Balboa 

3. Capira 

4. Chame 

5. Chepo 

6. Chorrera 

7. Chepigana 

8. Emperador 

Distance! Distance 

to the 

city of 








52. 25 
50. a5 

25. 65 
29. 45 
23. 85 


to the 
city of 





165. 3 



197. 8 










147. 05 

Chiriqui Grande, Bastimento, Bocas 
del Drago, Bocas del Toro. 

Tabernilla, Ahorca Lagarto, Buena- 
vista, Caimito Mulato. 

Monkey Hill, Majagual, Playa Plor. 

Lagarto, Salud y Rio Indio. 


ISTombre de Dios, Palenque. 



Pedregal, Bajo Boquete, San Pablo. 



Cocoli, Farfan. 

San Miguel, Chiman, Saboga. 

El Potrero, Cermeno. 

Corozal, El Llano. 

Chepigana, La Palma, Garachine, 

Jaque, Jurado, Tucuti. 
Culebra, Paraiso y Pedro Miguel, 

Cascadas y Casas Blancas. 

a Via Cartagena. 

b 1 miriameter equals 6.2138 English miles. 

c No data. 




A. Provinces of the department {political and^scaZ)— Continued. 

Names of the provinces and 
municipal districts. 

to the 
city of 


to the 
city of 



Panama— Continued. 

9. Gorgona 




















Alto y Bajo Obispo, Matachin, Ma- 
mey y Bailamonos, San Pablo, 

Pueblo Nuevo, Naos, La Boca, Pa- 

10. Panama .. 

11. Pinogana 

Cana, Pinogana, Yaviza, El Real de 

12. San Carlos .. . 

13. Taboga 


Vbraguas (capital, Santi- 

1. Calobre ..: 

2. Canazas 

3. La Mesa 

4. Las Palmas 

5. Montijo.- 

6. Rio Jesus 


7. San Francisco 

8. Santa Fe . 

9. Santiago 


10. Sona. .- '.... 

B. — Judicial circuits and sections. 

BocAS DEL ToRO (capital, Bocas 

Los Santos— Continued. 

del Toro) : 

5. Los Santos. 

Bocas del Toro, con los corregi- 

6. Macaracas. 

mientos de Chiriqui Grande. 

7. Ocu. 

Bastimentos. Bocas del Drago 

8. Parita. 

y Bocas del Toro. 

9. Pedasi. 

Colon (capital, Colon): 

10. Pese. 

1. Buena vista. 

11. Pocri. 

2. Colon. 

12. Santa Maria. 

3. Chagres. 

13. Tonosi. 

4. Donoso. 

Panama (capital, Panama): 

5. Gatun. 

1. Arraijan. 

6. Portobelo. 

2. Balboa. 

CocLE (capital, Penonome): 

3. Capira. 

1. Aguadulce. 

4. Chame. 

2. Anton. 

5. Chepo. 

3. La Pintada. 

6. Chorrera. 

4. Nata. 

7. Chepigana. 

5. Ola. 

8. Emperador. 

6. Penonome. 

9. Gorgona. 

Chiriqui (capital, David): 

10. Panama. 

1. Alanje. 

11. Pinogana. 

2. Bugaba. 

12. San Carlos. 

3. David. 

13. Taboga. 

4. Dolega. 

Veraguas (capital, Santiago) 

5. Gualaca. 

1. Calobre. 

6. Los Remedios. 

2. Cnaazas. 

7. San Felix. 

3. La Mesa. 

8. San Lorenzo. 

4. Las Palmas. 

9. Tole. 

5. Montijo. 

Los Santos (capital, Pese): 

6. Rio Jesus. 

1. Chitre. 

7. San Francisco. 

2. Guarare. 

8. Santa Fe. 

3. Las Minas. 

9. Santiago. 

4. LasTablas. 

10. Sona. 


C. — Educational provinces. 

Municipal districts forming the provinces. 

Colon (capital, Colon) : 

1. Bocas del Toro 

2. Buenavista. 

3. Colon 

4. Chagres 

5. Gatun. 

6. Portobelo 

CocLE (capital, Penonome): 

1. Anton 

2. Aguadulce - 

3. La Pintada. 

4. ISTata. 

5. Ola. 

6. Penonome.. 

Chiriqui (capital, David): 

1. Alanje. 

2. Bugaba. 

3. David 

4. Dolega.. 

5. Gualaca. 

6. Los Remedios. 

7. San Felix. 

8. San Lorenzo. 

9. Tole. 

Los Santos (capital, Pese): 

1. Chitre. 

2. Guarare. 

3. Las Minas. 

4. Las Tablas. 

5. Los Santos 

6. Macaracas. 

7. Ocu. 

8. Parita. 

9. Pedasi. 

10. Pese. 

11. Pocri 

12. Santa Maria. 

13. Tonosi. 

Panama (capital, Panama): 

1. Aral Jan. 

2. Balboa... 

3. Capira 

4. Chame 

5. Chepo. 

6. Chorrera. 

7. Chepigana 

8. Emperador 

9. Gorgona 

10. Panama 

11. Pinogana 

12. San Carlos. 

13. Taboga. 
Vebaguas (capital, Santiago): 

1. Calobre. 

2. Canazas. 

3. La Mesa. 

4. Las Palmas. 

5. Montijo. 

6. Rio Jesus. 

7. San Francisco. 

8. Santa Fe. 

9. Santiago 

10. Sona. 

Rural schools in the municipal districts. 

Chiriqui Grande y Bastimentos. 

Playa de Flor. 

Palenque, Viento Frio y Nombre de Dios. 

El Valle. 

Pocri y El Cristo, 

Rio Grande y Toabre. 

Boqueron Pedregal, Las Lomis y San 

Tina j as. 

La Palma. 



Cermeno y El Potrero. 


La Palma. 

Culebra, Paraiso. 

Matachin y Bailamonos. 


Santa Maria, Garachine y Yaviza. 

La Colorada. 



D. Notary and registry circuits. 

BocAS DEL ToRO (capital, Bocas del 
1. Bocas del Toro. 
Colon (capital, Colon): 

1. Buenavista. 

2. Colon. 

3. Chagres. 

4. Donoso. 

5. Gatnn. 

6. Portobelo. 

CocLE (capital, Penonome): 

1. Aguadulce. 

2. Anton. 

3. La Pintada. 

4. Nata. 

5. Ola. 

6. Penonome. 
Chiriqui (capital, David): 

1. Alanje. 

2. Bugaba. 

3. David. 

4. Dolega. 

5. Gualaca. 

6. Los Remedios. 

7. San Felix. 

8. San Lorenzo. 

9. Tole. 

Los Santos (capital, Pese) : 

1. Chitre. 

2. Guar are. 

3. Las Minas. 

4. Las Tablas. 

5. Los Santos. 

6. Macaracas. 

Los Santos— Continued. 

7. Ocu. 

8. Parita. 

9. Pedasi. 

10. Pese. 

11. Pocri. 

12. Santa Maria. 

13. Tonosi. 

Panama (capital, Panama): 

1. Arraijan. 

2. Balboa. 

3. Capira. 

4. Chame. 

5. Chepo. 

6. Chorrera. 

7. Chepigana. 

8. Emperador. 

9. Gorgona. 

10. Panama. 

11. Pinogana. 

12. San Carlos. 

13. Taboga. 

Veraguas (capital, Santiago) : 

1. Calobre. 

2. Canazas. 

3. La Mesa. 

4. Las Palmas. 

5. Montijo. 

6. Rio Jesus. 

7. San Francisco. 

8. Santa Fe. 

9. Santiago. 
10. Sona. 



Population electoral circuits or districts, 1870. 

Colon (capital, Colon): 

1. Bocas del Tore - - - 

2. Buena vista 

3. Colon _ . . 

4. Chagres 

5. Donoso 

6. Gatun 







7. Portobelo 10,581 


CoCLB (capital, Penonome): 

1. Aguadulce. 3,074 

2. Anton 2,792 

3. LaPintada 5,711 

4. Nata 5,888 

5. Ola.. 3,756 

6. Penonome 12,667 

as, 888 

Chiriqui (capital, David): 

1. Alanje 7,487 

2. Bugaba 1,059 

3. David 


5. Gualaca 

6. Los Remedios. 

7. San Felix 

8. San Lorenzo .. 

9. Tole. 

4. Dolega 3,407 

" " " 2,413 






Los Santos (capital, Pese): 

1. Chitre _. 2,378 

2. Guarare 1,472 

3. LasMinas... 2,761 

4. LasTablas 5,047 

5. Los Santos 4,023 

6. Macaracas , 3,199 

7. Ocu 3,321 

Los Santos— Continued. 

8. Parita 2,551 

9. Pedasi 4,182 

10. Pese 3,318 

11. Pocri 3,302 

12. Santa Maria 2,264 

13. Tonosi... 1,500 


Panama (capital, Panama): 

1. Araijan 1,319 

2. Balboa 3,220 

3. Capira _ 1,501 

4. Chame 1,961 

5. Cliepo 3,157 

6. Chorrera 4,834 

7. Chepigana 3,716 

8. Emperador 1,420 

9. Gorgona 2,564 

10. Panama 16,406 

11. Pinogana 3,715 

12. San Carlos 2,034 

13. Taboga 1,568 

Veraguas (capital, Santiago): 
1. Calobre 



La Mesa 

Las Palmas . . . 


Rio Jesus 

San Francisco 

Santa Fe 








Towns and localities connected by the telegixtph. — Aguadulce, Anton. 
Arraijan, Capira, Chame, Chitre, Chorrera, David, Guarare, Horconci- 
tos. Las Lajas, La Mesa, La Pintada, Las Palmas, Los Santos, Las 
Tablas, Nata, Ocu, Panama, Parita, Penonome, Pedregal, Pese, Reme- 
dios, Santiago, San Carlos, San Felix, Santa Maria, San Lorenzo. Sona 

' ' An advance across the Isthmus from Colon toward Panama 
would be, of course, easiest by the railroad line, as the trails 
are all generally very difficult and overgrown with bruvsh. 
There is a telegraph and telephone line which runs across 
the Isthmus along the railroad. The railroad is ballasted 
with rock nearly the whole distance from Colon to Panama. 
Light artillery could be taken along the railroad on trains or 
could be taken along the railroad track, when the necessary 
amount of boards and planks would have to be carried to lay 
over the bridges. Three equipped men on foot could march 
abreast along the railroad line. 

"There is water communication from the mouth of the 
Chagres River to Gatun, which has already been spoken of. 


The railroad is generally straight, with no more than the 
ordinary' number of curves. Vegetation on both sides of the 
track grows most luxuriantly, there being a great many bam- 
boo and banana trees. 

"There are several hills which could be occupied to pre- 
vent advance along the line. The railroad is quite well 
equipped with plenty of rolling stock. There are about 
65 bridges, principally steel, the most important and longest 
crossing the Chagres River at Gatun. 

"About 150 small cart mules and horses could be obtained 
in the city of Panama; about 75 pack mules could be obtained 
in Chorrera, while not more than 50 or 60 animals could be 
obtained in the city of Colon. 

"Guns mounted u]3on a point near the light-house in the 
city of Colon could protect both harbors against a hostile 
fleet. Fresh water is obtainable at Colon for vessels, but is 
of poor quality. 

"About one-half mile west of the city of Panama is a large 
hill about 600 feet in height (Ancon). On the northeast side 
of this hill are located large hospital buildings of the French 
Canal Company. This hospital has 18 wards, each ward 
having 40 beds, and has very modern equipment. The drain- 
age sj^stem, however, is not very well arranged, and at pres- 
ent the sanitary- condition of the hospital is not good. Modern 
artillery could be placed upon this hill and command the citj^ 
of Panama and both the harbors, also the anchorage near the 
island of Culebra. Other hosi3itals are the Hospital de Estran- 
jeros, having room for 75 patients, and the Hospital of Santo 
Tomas, with 11 nurses. Sisters of Charity. 

"The only points w^here troops could be landed near Colon 
on the Atlantic side of the Isthmus are Portobelo Harbor, 
Manzanillo or Limon Bay, at Boca del Toro, or in favorable 
weather at the mouth of the Chagres River. The only place 
where troops could be landed on the south side of the Isthmus 
is at the harbor of Panama or La Boca, or at the mouth of the 
Camito River near Chorrera." — Report of Capt. C. B. Hum- 
phrey, Twenty-second Infantry, 1903. 

The Interior. — "Although in the search of a practicable 
canal route from the Atantic Ocean to the Pacific, the Isth- 
mus of Panama has been considerably explored transversely, 
it would appear that longitudinally it has not received the 
same attention. Thus, while we learn that between Chepo 


on the south and the Gulf of San l^las on the north the 
Isthmus narrows to a minimum width, that the summit of 
the Cordillera reaches an altitude of but 1,500 feet, and inci- 
dentally that the Indians are numerous, warlike, and hostile; 
while from Cullen we learn that the Cordillera is reduced to 
a height of 350 feet between Caledonia Bay and the Savana 
River, and that the ridge here is but 2 miles wide at its base, 
falling away on both sides in level plains (statements proven 
to be erroneous by Selfridge); and while again we are in- 
formed that by following the course of the Tuira River we 
shall be led to a portage to the Atrato River of but 3 miles 
in length and 400 feet in height — while we are furnished with 
reports like these derived from journeys across the Isthmus, 
we look in vain for accounts of exploration lengthwise of this 
neck of land. Roads or trails there appear to be none. In 
the interior tropical growth, jungle, thicket, and swampy 
morass abound. The Cordilleras are irregular and difficult, 
few towns exist, and the Indians, in some localities at least, 
are unconquered, savage, and hostile. With such obstacles 
to overcome, it would seem on the whole that the interior of 
the Isthmus presents almost if not quite insuperable difficul- 
ties to extensive and continuous exploration or passage along 
its length." — Compiler. 


"While public instruction in the department leaves much 
to be desired, yet its progress is slow but sure. The great 
obstacle is the lack of competent teachers. 

"The secretary of public instruction, in his report of the 
year 1898 to the governor of the department, states that 
elementary schools are springing up, one by one, through- 
out the entire department, but that it is of greater impor- 
tance to produce good instructors than to multiply primary 
schools. With this end in view the normal school for teach- 
ers was founded in Maj^, 1897, which is doing a promising 
work under the direction of two distinguished ladies. Dona 
Matilde and Dona Rosa Elena Rubiano C, who were brought 
from the capital of the Republic expressly for that purpose. 



Educational statistics for 1896 and 1897. 

Pupils reg- 

Pupils in 




1896 - 


Increase of 1897 



Further increase in 1897 by means of normal school pupils 


Total increase of 1897 



"For the most part the schools are abundantly supplied 
with the books and appliances required by modern pedagogy. 

"The school fund has a revenue to be applied to educa- 
tional purposes of more than $160,000 per year. 

Educational statistics of the Department of Panama for 1897-98. 

f? . 

^ • 

02 . 




m 0) 





^ en 






(J) f3 



u ? 




















































Los Santos 













































Total number of pupils registered of both sexes «6, 592 

Total number or pupils in attendance , . 4, 006 

— {Directory of Panama^ 1898. ) 

« Leaving, apparently, 1,060 unaccounted for in above tdiXAe.— Compiler, 




(Survey of 1870.) 

The terms Darien and Panama are indiscriminately ap- 
plied to the narrow neck of land between latitudes 8° and 
10° north, connecting North and South America. Properly 
speaking, the Isthmus of Panama comprises all the territory 
watered by the Chagres and its tributaries across the divide 
to the Pacific. 

The Isthmus of Darien extends from the San Bias Moun- 
tains, which separate the headwaters of the Mandinga and 
Marmoni from those of the Chagres, to the boundaries of the 
State of Choco, or to the mountain range from which the 
Tuyra or Darien River takes its rise, this range running in a 
southwesterly direction from the mouth of the Atrato toward 
the Pacific. 

The Cordilleras, entering the State of Panama, diverge 
toward the Pacific, and on the line of the Panama Railroad 
are not distant more than 5 miles from that ocean. They 
lose their character as mountains, and the divide, ranging 
from 262 to 600 feet, is broken into a great number of isolated 
peaks and hills, through the gorges of which the line of rail- 
road runs to the city of Panama. From the point where the 
railroad crosses the divide, the latter stretches to the north- 
east, increasing greatly in altitude, and bifurcates; one fork 
inclosing the headwaters of the Chagres, and, dividing it 
from the Mandina, meets the Atlantic in the vicinity of Cape 
Manzanillo. The other, stretching to the east within a few 
miles of the coast, takes the name of the Cordilleras Lloranes> 



and forms the great backbone of the Darien Isthmus as far 
as the mouth of the Atrato. It here again suffers a depres- 
sion, separating the Atrato from the Tuyra, and, turning to 
the southwest, forms with the Antioquian chain the Andes 
of South America. 

Let the orology of Darien be carefully considered, and it 
will appear that though through its whole length it is nar- 
rower than any other of the transits spoken of, there are 
but few points which present any probability of a successful 
search for a low level. 

The Cordilleras Lloranes skirt the Atlantic coast at dis- 
tances varing from 5 to 8 miles, and varying in altitude from 
1,000 to 3,000 feet. Between this range and the shore there 
are three other ridges or hills, decreasing in altitude succes- 
sively, and cut up with valleys, through which the various 
water courses wind their way to the Atlantic. This feature 
does not permit plains of any size, circumscribes the valleys, 
and, breaking up the whole surface of the country, covered 
as it is with a dense primeval growth, renders all attempts 
at a regular survey of a most difficult nature. 

From the close proximity of the Cordilleras to the Atlantic, 
we find no rivers of any size except the Mandinga; they are 
mostly brooks in the dry season and mountain torrents in 
the wet. 

This dividing range through the length of Darien is very 
narrow at its crest, in some places not exceeding a few feet 
in width, with steep slopes and spurs jutting out from each 
side, over which leads the Indian trail. These spurs inclose 
ravines, which extend so far into the divide that the water 
courses which spring from them are often not more than a 
thousand feet apart on each side, and they would in them- 
selves form an important feature in reducing the estimates 
of excavation, but for the fact that their mean level is too 
high to enable us to dispense with tunneling. 

The western slope of the Cordilleras, being much wider, is 
drained by three large rivers. The Bayamo, rising in the 
Chiman range, an offshoot of the Cordilleras, flows north ; the 
Chucunaqua, also rising in the southern slope of the Chiman 
Mountains, empties into the Tuyra not far from its mouth; 
the Tuyra, the largest river of the Isthmus, rising in the 
boundaries of the State of Choco in the south, drains the 
western slope and empties into the Gulf of San Miguel. 


The Cordilleras skirting so closely the Atlantic coast, it 
follows that any deep depression in their outline could be 
seen from the sea, though its depth might be hid by the 
intervening hills that lie between them and the coast. No 
such depression is visible except in the valley of the Man- 
dinga, and constant inquiries among different tribes of Indi- 
ans still further strengthen this fact. 

The Chiman range cuts the Isthmus transversely and 
separates the sources of two rivers, one flowing north and 
the other south; it is therefore evident the mean height of 
any transit line will be greater the nearer you approach the 
center of the Isthmus. In other words, from the configura- 
tion of the land as marked by the water courses, it must be 
at the extremities, and not in the center, that we can with 
any success hope to find a favorable route. 

The northern extremity is but 36 miles across, and is the 
narrowest portion of the western continent. The southern 
extremit}^ embraces the valley of the Tuj-ra; and, though 
wider than the other portion, it has the advantage, if reports 
are true, of having the lowest divide anywhere to be found. 
The question of harbors, entering so minutely into the canal 
problem, still further narrows our researches. 

There are but two fine harbors on the Atlantic coast, the 
Gulf of San Bias and Caledonia Bay. Both of these are 
admirable and possess every requirement, and from their 
vicinity only could a canal well be constructed. 

Though the Isthmus of Darien is an unexplored wilderness 
and but little known, yet, for the purpose of canalization, 
there are therefore but three portions that admit of any 
necessity of exploration to settle the question of its adapta- 
bility to the purpose in view. 


The climate of Darien, like other portions of the Tropics, 
may be divided into two seasons — wet and dry. The former 
extends from May to January; but the rainfall varies greatly 
for different months. Commencing in May, this month and 
June are rainy, but in July and until the middle of August 
the weather is comparatively good, and labor at this period 
would be but little incommoded. 

In the middle of August commence the heavy rains, and 
they continue until January. Severe squalls, waterspouts. 


vivid thunder and lightning, and such rain as may well be 
called a deluge mark this period. At this time no excava- 
tions would be possible not protected with sheds. The rivers 
overflow their banks and all low land near the coast is 

The dry season, or the season of the breezes as it is some- 
times called, commences in January and ends in May. At 
this time the trade winds blow fresh from the north, and a 
heavy sea breaks all along the coast, rendering it impossible 
to land or anchor when not protected by reefs or harbors. 
The climate at this period is delightful; little or no rain falls 
except in the mountains, which, intercepting the trade clouds, 
always precipitate more or less moisture upon the Atlantic 
slope; the air is moist and cool, the sky clear day and night, 
and the thermometer ranges between 79° and 86°. 

After the expiration of the trades in the latter part of 
April, sea and land breezes prevail, and with them the ther- 
mometer rises to 88° and falls to 76°, showers are frequent, 
and heavy rain for a day or two. 

Though the above is the general aspect of the seasons, the 
experience of this expedition has, however, been different. 
Rain has occurred more or less every month, particularly 
three or four days before the new moon, and especially in the 
interior, where work was interrupted whole days. Though 
it is a disputed point that the moon has any effect in dis- 
turbing the equilibrium of the earth's atmosphere, the 
changes of the weather with the changes of the moon were 
very marked upon the Isthmus. The closing days of the 
lunar month were sure to be marked with rain, and showers 
were always more frequent in the latter than in the early 
quarters of the moon. 

With us the month of May was marked with unusually 
severe rains; the enormous amount of 7 inches fall in one 
night was recorded at Aspinwall; but during the first two 
weeks in June the weather was charming. Such an amount 
of rain in the dry season and such a heavy fall in May had 
rarely been known. The Isthmus of Darien has a most un- 
enviable reputation for sickness. This is partly traditional, 
from the early experiences of the Spaniards, and partly from 
our experiences on the Isthmus of Panama, Nicaragua, and 
other portions of Central America. The formation of Aspin- 
wall and of a portion along the line of the railroad is coral- 


line. The mindi and other swamps in the bottom lands of 
the Chagres River hold in decomposition a vast amount of 
vegetable matter. Unfavorable as this should be, the record 
of the Panama Railroad develops a mortality of only 293 
white men out of 6,000 that were constantly engaged on the 
work. The coolies fared the worse; the negroes and natives 

That the Isthmus of Darien is vastly more healthy is not 
only the unanimous record of every previous explorer, but is 
abundantly verified by the experience of this expedition, 
which, numbering a force of 280 men, suffered but one death, 
and that from drowning, though exposed to a severe test 
from the constant exposure incident to the survey, which at 
all times required a large number in the field. The fever 
we met with differs from the Chagres fever, leaving none of 
the effects of the latter upon the system, and arose more from 
fatigue and privation than from any climatic causes. That 
a less favorable condition of health would be experienced in 
the wet season is undoubtedly correct; but our ships of war 
lie for months in the harbor of Aspinwall without injury, 
and I have no idea, with proper shelter and food, that the 
excavation of a canal upon the Isthmus of Darien would prove 
any more unhealthy than in many places in the United States 
where the virgin soil is first turned up. 


The whole of the Isthmus of Darien, except a small portion 
of the valley of the Tuj^ra, comprising the towns of Chipo- 
gana, Pinogana, Yavisa, and Santa Maria, and a few scat- 
tering inhabitants on the Bayamo near its mouth, is unin- 
habited except by the San Bias or Darien Indians. It is on 
account of their jealous exclusion of foreigners that so little 
is known of the country. In 1719 the Catholic missionaries 
had succeeded in establishing a number of towns on the 
Atlantic coast and upon the rivers flowing into the Gulf of 
San Miguel, but they w^ere all destroyed by the Indians. In 
1790 a treaty of peace was made with the Indians of Darien, 
in compliance with which the Spaniards abandoned all their 
forts in that district, in which no white man has since settled. 
They have the usual characteristics of the copper-colored 
race, but are much lower in stature than the North American 
12312—03 15 


Indians, being rarely met witli over 5 feet inches in height. 
They are a muscular race, capable of great exertion for 
which their life in canoes or the broken nature of their 
mountain homes peculiarly fit them. They are very peace- 
able in their natures, and I could learn of no conflict between 
the villages, but yet independent and resolute against for- 
eigners. They inhabit the whole Atlantic coast from San 
Bias to the the Tarena, mouth of the Atrato, and in the 
interior from the Sucubti to the upper parts of the Bayarao. 
There is no head or chief of the whole tribe, as commonly 
reported; but though the language and customs are similar, 
each village or tribe has its head man or chief, generally 
the oldest man of the tribe, to whom ail pay great deference. 

The Mountain Indians, or Bravos as styled b}'^ the Span- 
iards, are more numerous than generally supposed. On the 
Sucubti branch of the Chucunaqua we found three large 
villages that could not have contained less than 1,000 inhab- 
itants. The most warlike, as well as the least known, and 
probablj^ the most numerous, are the Chucunas and Navi- 
gandis, in the center of the Isthmus. The interior, back 
of San Bias, is uninhabited; neither are the Indian settle- 
ments with until you ascend the Ba^^amo some 40 miles. 

The coast Indians, from contact with foreigners, are very 
docile and tractable, and by a conciliatory course I found no 
difficulty, after becoming known, in obtaining guides and all 
the information they possess of the interior; but they stand 
in awe of the mountain Indians and would never accompany 
me into their territory. They live principally ujjon fish, 
plantains, and bananas, with Indian corn and a kind of 
cassava. Some sugar cane is raised, the juice of which, 
extracted in a rude way between two poles, upon one of 
which an Indian jumps, they mix with cocoa for a beverage. 

The women are very short, and their large features and 
straight coarse hair do not give them a prepossessing appear- 
ance. After reaching womanhood they cut their hair short 
and blacken the teeth. They wear large gold rings in their 
noses and ears, and necklaces of silver pieces, tiger, monkey, 
and alligator teeth. The women all tattoo across the bridge 
of the nose and paint their cheek bones red, but paint or 
tattoo is seldom used among the men. 

I was not able to discover their ancient form of worship. 
Their belief in a Supreme Being is the result of contact 


with the Spaniards a century ago rather than an ancient 
tribal belief. They believe in evil spirits, and their Leles, 
or medicine men, have numerous ugly images and ridiculous 
relics that are believed to possess the power to cure dis- 
eases. They are exceedingly averse to labor, except the little 
required in the cultivation of their fields, and no assistance 
from this source would be obtained for the work of a canal. 
They believe that God made the country just as it is, and 
that He would be angry with them and kill them if they 
assisted in any work constructed by white men. Work in 
the fields is left to the women, but the severe labor is mostly 
performed by men. Polygamy, though permitted, is rare, 
and the Darien Indians are particularly marked by their 
jealous exclusion of women from observation. During our 
stay at Caledonia Bay no women were ever met with, and 
upon our approach they were alwa^^s removed from the vil- 
lages, and this w^as the onl}^ mark of fear they evinced 
toward us. No traces of amalgamation were met with but 
some albinos. Their arms are principally the bow and 
arrow, in the use of which they are very skillful, and the 
single-barreled shotgun. 

The Mountain Indians rarely visit the coast, except to 
trade their native products, ivory nuts, cocoa, and caout- 
chouc, for cotton cloths, beads, and a few simple domestic 
utensils. The Coast Indians carry on a large trade in cocoa- 
nuts, ivory nuts, and tortoise shell. Though the Republic of 
Colombia has a nominal authority, they have always main- 
tained their independence. They number probably not less 
than seven thousand, but their strength lies in the rugged 
nature of their country. Their independence of character 
prevents the use of presents to any extent, and they will be 
of little service in procuring a desired policy. Individuals 
would refuse to receive gifts until they had obtained the per- 
mission of their headmen, and I could never prevail upon 
any of the chiefs to accept anything in my official capacity. 
An amusing example of this occurred on one occasion. I 
was paying my first visit to the chief of the Sassardis, and, 
ignorant of their prejudices, had brought for him a large 
present of cloth, needles, etc. He at first refused, but after- 
wards accepted them out of compliment to me, as he said, as 
I told him it was the custom in my country never to take 
back a present once given. After our council had broken 


up, I noticed a palaver among them, and on my reiurn to my 
gig found the present returned. I went back and told them 
I was ver}^ angry at their discourtesy, but they replied their 
customs would not permit them to receive presents from for- 
eign governments. However, I put the present on the beach, 
and afterwards saw the cloth in the chiefs house. This 
denial of what they would gladly purchase, showed an inde- 
pendence of character cropping out in an amusing waj^ that 
was pleasant to find. 

As a whole this tribe is cowardly, but treacherous, and, 
though they are to be feared only by small parties, become 
dangerous in a work like ours, from their knowledge of the 
country, to the scattered parties engaged in surveying or 
bringing up supplies. 


The geological formation of the Isthmus presents but little 
diversity from the other portions of the great range of 
mountains of which it forms a part. There were no indica- 
tions of recent volcanic action, and but few volcanic stones 
were found. The mountains themselves thrown up in the 
original upheaval are immense masses of syenite or trap. 

The plains for from two to five miles from the coast are of 
coralline formation, covered with the alluvinm washed from 
the mountains, a sj^stem of reclaiming from the sea which is 
a striking feature of the world's economy. 

Passing from the coralline formation, we meet an outer 
cropping of sandstone at a high angle, which, althoagh 
modified by the surrounding topograph}^ taken in connec- 
tion with the steep slope of the mountains on the Atlantic 
slope, appears to have been upheaved and at the same time 
folded over. 

At an elevation of 100 feet on the Caledonia route, syenite 
is first met with, which, forming the substructure of the 
mountain area, extends for some 14 miles, where the sand- 
stone again becomes visible, which continues the underljang 
formation until lost in the clay beds of the Chucunaqaa. 
Indications of copper were found in great abundance on the 
Sassardi and Morti line, and veins of pure copper, though 
small, were traced for several feet. Iron and copper pyrites 
were met in great abundance, but no indications of gold 


were discovered on any of the routes explored by the 

Large numbers of agates were obtained on the Sassardi 

The San Bias route was singularly uninteresting in geolog- 
ical specimens. Decomposed syenite and sandstone were 
met with on the lower portion above an altitude of 20 feet, 
while trap composed the formation of the great mountain 
area of this route. 



(Survey of 1871.) 

The Isthmus of Darien may be subdivided into, three divi- 
sions — the northwestern, including the water-shed of the 
Bayamo River, on the Pacific, and the Atlantic coast border- 
ing on the BsjJ of San Bias as far as the peak of Playon 
Chico; the central, from Playon Chico to a line drawn from 
Cape Tiburon to Cape Garachine (the Cordilleras break off 
into two ranges at Playon Chico, one continuing along the 
coast, the other, crossing the isthmus transversely, ends in 
the high hills that skirt the north shore of the Gulf of Sap 
Miguel. This range forms the divide between the Bayam 
flowing to the north and the Chucunaqua to the south); the 
southern included between parallel 7° 30' and 8° 40' north 
latitude. From Cape Tiburon the coast range known as the 
Cordilleras Llorenes pursues an unbroken line, but a short 
distance from the coast, to the Puerto Escondido. At the 
latter point it recedes and bifurcates, the one fork running 
nearly south, graduall}^ lessening in altitude till it disappears 
at the mouth of the Cacarica River; the other takes a more 
westerly direction till it strikes the Pacific coast, forming 
the true divide, known by the name of Sancti Espiritu 
Mountains. It is in the valley at the forks of this range that 
the Cacarica, a tributary of the Atrato, rises, emptying into 
the latter some 40 miles from its mouth. 

The western slope of this range is drained by the Tuj'ra 
River, which empties into the Gulf of San Miguel. Two 
tributaries of the latter river — the Paya and Cue — have their 
sources very near those of the Cacarica and Peranchita. 


The divide between them seems to lose its mountainous 
eharaeter, and is broken up into hills and spui's, over which 
an Indian trail, leading from one side of the divide to the 
other, is known to the "eaoutchandos," or India-rubber 
hunters, as the pass of the Cacarica. This is the region, 
therefore, that I proposed thoroughly to explore — a task 
requiring a combined expedition from both oceans, which, 
running separate lines of level, should finally connect in the 

The principal explorers who purport to have visited this 
region are Hellert, Lacharme, Grorgoza, and De Puydt. The 
facts as stated by them are so positive as to the adaptability 
of this route that one could but feel it conclusive that here 
would be found a line fully equal to all the requirements of a 
suitable location. 

Hellert contributed a paper upon his explorations to the 
Berlin Geographical Society, which seemingl}' gave it such 
authority that upon its assertions I based mj^ plans for the 
surve}^ of the Pacific slope. For a translation of this report 
by Professor Davidson I am indebted to the courtesy of the 
Coast Survey. Professor Davidson deduced from Ilellert's 
notes the total height of the divide to be but 254 feet, and 
the Falls of Tapanaca, many miles above the Cue River, but 
43 feet above sea-level. This was all coideur de rose, and 
here undoubtedly, if these figures had been borne out in 
facts, was the long-sought-for spot, or, as Hellert terms it, 
the "key to the Pacific." He says further that there are 8 to 
10 feet, in the dry season, in the Tuyra River, as far as the 
Tapanaca, and that no rocks were to be seen over the whole 
of this distance, and the river bottom sand}^, with small 

One may judge of my surprise when I learned from Mr. 
Nelson, the agent of the railroad at Panama, that Hellert was 
in his employ while in the country, and never penetrated the 
interior farther than Pinogana. 

Mons. Lacharme, a civil engineer of South America, 
explored the vallej^ of the Tuyra as far as the divide, in 1865, 
at the request of Senor Gorgoza, who supposed he had dis- 
covered in the Spanish archives information that would lead 
to the discovery of a pass for the proposed canal. Lacharme 
published a very interesting narrative of his travels, in Put- 
nam's Magazine. He places the mouth of the Paya River at 


144 feet above, and Paya Village, some twenty- five miles up 
that stream, at only 173 feet above sea-level. lie states he 
followed the Indian trail from Paya across the divide, to a 
branch of the Caciirica, called the Tuculegua, which he 
places at an altitude of 1G9 feet. He purports to have gone 
some distance down the Cacarica, in all, two days' journey 
from Paya village, and to have returned in one day, meas- 
uring the distance with a chain. He places the summit level 
of his survey near the village of Paya at 178 feet, which is 
very remarkable for being the very datum given to him 
before he set out as the greatest elevation that would be 
practicable for the enterprise. It is also singular that he 
should find this summit but a short distance from Paya, 
when he must have known that the head waters of that river 
were many miles distant. 

Senor Gorgosa also visited, I believe, the village of Paya, 
and the accounts he published were sufficiently flattering to 
lead to the formation of a company of capitalists in Paris fo" 
the purpose of acting upon his reports. They sent Genera^ 
Heine, an attache of the American legation at Paris, to ex- 
amine this route. Heine proceeded as far as the mouths of 
the Atrato, but, not being properly prepared, did not ascend 
the river, and returned to Aspinwall. The true facts ob- 
tained by the expedition will show how erroneous were the 
estimates of these explorers, and how much we who had 
believed in them were deceived. 


The population of the region explored during the past year 
may be divided into Colombianos and Indians. The former 
are composed of whites, mulattoes, samboes, and negroes. 
The latter compose at least five-sixths of the whole, and are 
an athletic race, but lazy and shiftless. They are to be found 
in the villages of Chipigana, Santa Maria del Real, Molineca, 
Pinogana, and Yavisa in Darien, and the small village of 
Turbo, or Pisisi, on the Gulf of Darien. They are princi- 
pally engaged in the production of caoutchouc, in which an 
industrious man can easily earn $100 a month; and as it per- 
mits a free and lazy existence, it is difficult to procure labor- 
ing men except at the most exorbitant rates. 

At one time, no doubt, the whole of the valleys of the 


Tuyra and Ohucunaqua were inhabited by the Darien 
Indians, but they have disappeared entirely from the former, 
excepting the Paya tribe, on the river of that name. Tliese 
Indians are less averse to strangers than any I had met with 
previousl}^, OAving, no doubt, to their long intercourse with 
the Spaniards, of whom, however, they are perfectly inde- 
pendent, and with whom there are no signs of amalgamation. 
They treated me with kindness when I visited them, but were 
sharp enough to avail themselves of our necessities in driving- 
hard bargains for provisions. They do not number more 
than four hundred. 

On the Atlantic slope, near the Tarena mouth of the Atrato, 
we have the villages of Arpeti, Cuti, and Tanela, all under 
the chief of the latter. The Indians of these villages are as 
isolated as those of the interior, and have all of the latter's 
dislike to white men. They have no dealings with Europeans; 
their towns are only approached through small streams in the 
marshes of the Atrato, where one is almost devoured by 
mosquitoes, and their only glimpse of the outer world is when 
they visit Pisisi to trade for the few wants they may require. 
These Indians were described by those of the expedition who 
visited them as the finest that had been met with in Darien. 
De Puydt asserts to have descended to the Tanela village, 
and even beyond; but, on the other hand, their chief, Suza-le- 
Lele, who was very unwilling that Lieutenant-Commander 
Schulze should explore their domain, told him that he was 
the first wliite man who had ever i^enetrated so far. 

On the Chucunaqua there are now no villages of Indians 
below the Sucubti River, which was visited by the expedition 
in 1870. 

The Indians of the Atrato Valley, called Choco, are of a 
much milder disposition than the Darien. They were entirely 
subjugated by the Spaniards, and under these hard task- 
masters were almost depopulated, and lost their tribal organi- 
zation. Here and tliere families are to be found upon the 
rivers. They are quite inoffensive, and ready to offer their 
services as boatmen or guides. They are not averse to labor, 
and at Cupica Baj^ I found them tilling the ground by the 
side of the Spanish negro, whom in their present degraded 
condition they consider a superior being. 



The climate of the lower portion of Darien is materially 
the same as that of the region explored last year. Of the 
two seasons, dry and wet, the former commences about the 
1st of January and extends to the 20th of April. At this 
period the wind blows invariably from the north. After 
April there is more or less rain till the 21st of June. My own 
experience would lead me to believe that the heaviest rains 
during this season are in the first three weeks of May, and 
after that pleasant weather is frequent. July, though not a 
dry month, has but little rain. August denotes a reappear- 
ance of the wet season, though there is often much pleasant 
weather. September and October present the greatest rain- 
fall; in November the amount is less, though this is the 
month of the most violent storms, accompanied with heavy 
rains. The rainfall in the interior is much greater than on 
the coast. While we were having only showers about the 1st 
of May, the journal of the survej^ors records heavy rain. As 
to the effect of the seasons upon the construction of a canal, 
during nine months of the year there would be no more than 
partial interruption, and of these five may be considered as 
dry months. During the remaining three — September, Octo- 
ber, and November — it is not probable that any work could 
be done except under cover. The wind during the wet sea- 
son is usually from the south and west, with frequent calms. 
The temperature during the dry season is necessarily much 
higher on the Pacific slope, and the nights are often hot and 


All through the Isthmus and valley of the Atrato the soil 
is of unsurpassed fertility. On the lower ground, subject to 
overflow, it has been enriched by the deposit of rivers annu- 
ally brought down for ages, while at higher elevations the 
vegetable decomposition going on in the dense forest growth 
has given it a rich, loamy composition. All tropical prod- 
ucts would flourish in profusion, but the ground is peculiarl}^ 
adapted to the production of the sugar cane, which grows to 
an enormous size. Plantains are the staple food for both 
Indians and upgroes. 


The indolence and indifference of the inhabitants, the 
sparse popnlation, and the enervating effect of the climate 
npon Enropeans, seem to present almost impassable barriers 
to its improvement; and unless acted upon by such a pow- 
erful impetus as would be produced by the construction of a 
ship canal, it will probably remain forever in all its natural 


The whole of Darien is covered with a vast primeval growth 
from its swamps to the top of its highest peaks. Many of 
the trees I am unacquainted with, but among them are the 
following, more or less known: Caoutchouc, mahogany, 
ebony, oak, cedar, rosewood, espave, Quito, lignum-vit?e, 
ironwood, besides numerous varieties of the palm family. 

The forest trees support whole families of parasites, and 
from almost every branch hang festoons of vines, which hide 
the trees from which they spring and present a scene of the 
richest luxuriance. 

The puma, jaguar, tapir, and tiger cat inhabit the forests 
of Darien, but, hidden by day in the dense solitudes, are 
rarely met with. Many varieties of the snake family abound, 
whose bite is generally deadly. The wild hog, or peccary, is 
found in great numbers all over the Isthmus, and forms the 
chief article of meat for the natives. Monkej^s are numer- 
ous; also a small species of deer, armadillos, rabbits, and 
squirrels. Parrots and parroquets of the most brilliant 
plumage are met with everywhere; also the toucan, carpin- 
tero, chucara, and many other varieties not familiar. Wild 
turkeys are plentiful in the valley of the Atrato, and on the 
hills a beautiful bird like a pheasant, called by the natives 
the currasaw, is sometimes seen. 


The two principal rivers of the portion of Darien explored 
the past year are the Atrato and Tuyra. The Atrato, prob- 
ably the fourth largest river in volume in South America, 
rises in a spur of the Antioquian Range that connects the 
latter with the divide, or Cordilleras of Darien. Flowing on 
a course generally north for several hundred miles, it dis- 
charges itself through thirteen mouths, of which the principal 


are the Tarena, Candeleria, Barbocoas, Coquito, Coco-Grande, 
LTraba, and Pichindi, and empties into the Gulf of Darien. 
The valley which it drains, between the Antioquian Moun- 
tains and Cordilleras, extends from latitude 5° 26' north to 
8° 5' north, and varies from 100 to 150 miles in width. Its 
principal tributaries on the west bank are the Cacarica, 
Salaqui, Truando, Opogado, Napipi, and Bojaya; on the 
east, the Tumarador, Sucio, Murindo, and Muri. The Atrato 
was surveyed by Commander Lull for 100 miles, or as far up 
as the mouth of the Bojaya. Its banks are low, and for the 
whole of this distance during the wet season are overflow^ed 
to the depth of 3 or 4 feet, from which cause all the houses 
are built upon piles. Below Sucio there are no habitations 
upon the banks, as they are submerged ten months of the 
year. This river resembles the lower Mississippi in grandeur 
of proportions, with its long reaches, its width, varying from 
1,500 to 2,500 feet, and its great depth, often exceeding 60 
feet. Its current varies from 2 to o knots per hour, which 
would be much increased in the rainy season but for the 
overflow of the banks, which permits an escape of the surplus 
water by spreading for miles over the adjacent country. 
Trautwine, in his report upon this river, states that there are 
not more than 18 feet 90 miles from the mouth. It is prob- 
able that his soundings were made from a cauoe, which, in 
passing upstream, would keep in slack and shallow water. 

Our survey was carefully made in a rowboat floating down 
with the current, and nowhere in the channel Ave re found 
less than 28 feet. Over the whole distance surveyed no rocks 
were met with, the bottom muddy, and from its great depth 
the river was unobstructed with snags. So well defined is its? 
channel, and so free from obstructions, that a single passage 
up and return would be sufficient to make one acquainted 
with the navigation. The mouths of the Atrato are at pres- 
ent obstructed by bars, upon which there will never be found 
more than 6 feet of water. They differ in character, how- 
ever, according to their protection from the sea. The Uraba 
mouth, the one that it is proposed to utilize, being farthest 
from the sea, and also protected by a long sand spit, is fixed 
in its nature, and the bar of hard sand. These bars, as they 
are increased by fresh deposits, are slowly extending out, and 
break off abruptly from 2 fathoms into 10. An examina- 


tioii of the ITraba moutli showed that as soon as the deposit 
on each side of the channel was snfficient to rise above the 
water and give growth to water plants, the water commenced 
to deepen; and where the banks were of sufficient consistency 
to give growth to mangrove and palm, and tlius confine the 
flow of the current, a depth of 4 or 5 fathoms would be 
found. In the improvement of the bar, I would suggest that 
this action of nature be imitated in creating artificial banks 
by piling out to deep water, and a channel dredged out, 
which could be accomplished at a moderate outlay. 

The Tuyra.— This river differs entirely in its character 
from the Atrato. It rises in the Pirri Range, not far from 
the Pacific coast, flows first east, then gradually in a semi- 
circle to the north as far as the Paya, and, taking about a 
west-northwesterly course, empties into the Gulf of San Mi- 
guel. Above tide water, during the dry season, its bed for 
50 miles is filled with rapids, upon Avhich there is scarce water 
enougli to float a canoe to the Falls of Tapanaca. Above the 
falls it dwindles into a small stream. It is about 300 feet 
wide over most of this distance, very crooked, and the marks 
on the treps indicate a rise of 16 feet during the wet season. 
Passing almost its entire course through a hilly country, 
through its numerous tributaries it pours out a vast flood of 
water during the season of rains. Of its branches, the prin- 
cipal, on the left bank, are the Tucuti, Pirri, Arusa, Cupe, 
Paca, Piedra, and Cana. On the right bank it receives the 
Chucunaqua from the north, a river of the same size and 
hardly a tributary; the Yape, Pucro, Paya, and Cue, the lat- 
ter x^robably the same as known as the Punusa in the old 
SjDanish maps. 


Experiments at Muertos Island, Gulf of Darien, continued 
through the greater part of the dry season, showed an evap- 
oration of 1 inch in five daj^s. As this test was made with 
a very small bod}^ of water (in a wooden tank made for the 
purpose) it is believed to be the maximum amount for this 
localit}^, and though a smaller quantity than generall}' 
allowed for this latitude, yet when the very moist condition 
of the atmosphere is considered it is not surprising tliat it is 
not capable of absorbing more. 



The sanitary condition of the late expedition has been 
fully equal to that of 1870, and the fact that no mortality has 
taken place from climatic causes is most gratifying, in the 
face of the reports of the unhealthiness of this part of the 

The percentage of sick on both expeditions has not been 
much greater than upon the ordinary service, though officers 
and men hav^e been constantly exposed to the full malarial 
effect of the climate. The prevalent diseases were fevers 
(remittent and intermittent), disorders of the digestive 
organs, and skin diseases. Fevers did not assume a danger- 
ous type, though very exhaustive in their effect. Eczema 
occasioned much annoyance, and was difficult to heal. Bites 
from the hordes of insects that infest the jungles and forests, 
though not dangerous, were ver}' painful, and, in causing 
loss of sleep, often brought on fever. 

Malaria, though necessaril}^ active in such a wet climate 
as that of the Isthmus, does not, in the uncleared portions, 
appear as poisonous as in many other portions of the world 
which have a higher reputation for health. I attribute the 
fact to the hillj^ nature of the country and great waterfall, 
by which all vegetable decomposition is quickly carried off, 
and also that the dense tropical growth does not permit the 
action of the sun's rays. 

To the very stringent sanitary regulations, such as requir- 
ing flannel to be worn next to the skin, or, when on the sur- 
vey on shore, that every person should put on a dry flannel 
change at right; the liberal use of quinine as a prophylactic, 
in doses of H grains every morning to each person in the 
field; to the ample supply of wholesome food, at least 3 
pounds to a man; to the absence of intoxicating drinks; and 
to the but moderate indulgence in fruits, may be attributed, 
under Providence, in a great degree, the health of the expedi- 
tion, engaged as we were in a fatiguing and laborious task, 
exposed alternately to the fierce rays of a tropical sun and 
to constant wettings from rain or work in rivers. 

The experience of this expedition and others, of the Pan- 
ama Railroad Company, and of residents on the Isthmus, 
proves that the climate is not as unhealthy as generally sup- 

236 NOT?:s ON Panama. 

posed, and that it is possible to reside here niari}^ years 
without serious injury. 

In the einplo3nnent of sucli a vast body of men as would be 
required in the construction of a ship canal, the preservation 
of health is a subject of the highest interest, not only on the 
score of humanity, but as vitally important to the success of 
the enterprise. It is confidently believed that by comfortably 
constructed quarters, with which should be connected appa- 
ratus for the quick drjdng of clothes, by rigid sanitary regu- 
lations, and by a regular supply of wholesome food, a state 
of health may be maintained that will compare favorablj'' 
with newly opened districts in the United States. , 

Though the Indians, so far from increasing in numbers, 
appear to be rather the reverse, yet the great mortality seems 
to be in childhood, for many of the men attain a great age. 


The study of the geology of those parts explored by the 
expedition, in their relation toother portions of the Isthmus, 
is very instructive; and attention is called to the interesting 
report of the geologist. Dr. G. A. Maache, upon this subject. 

The results of our explorations of last 3^ear indicated that 
the base of the mountains forming the backbone of the 
Isthmus is principally syenite, which places them in the 
primary formation; while our observations, on the present 
expedition, from the valley of the Atrato and on the line of 
the Panama Railroad, would denote a substructure of trap 
and trachyte, and of a more recent creation. 

From this we are led to infer that the central portion of 
the Isthmus was of an origin coeval with the continents of 
North and South America; that the foot of these mountains 
was washed by a united ocean, and not until a later period 
were the connecting links upheaved; for the geological and 
physical features of the southern portion of the Isthmus are 
very different from the central, the regularity of the Cordil- 
leras losing itself in a broken country of very much less alti- 
tude, of which the hills are principally of a trappean origin. 

The extraordinary depth of the Atrato for 200 miles from 
its mouth, and the very little fall in this distance (40 feet), 
though surrounded at not great distances by high hills and 
mountains, indicate plainly that the whole valley of the 


Atrato was afc one time an estuary of the ocean; that by a 
later upheaval the continents were connected and the oceans 
were separated, when commenced a gradual encroachment 
upon the sea from the decomposition of the hillsides (which 
is comparatively very rapid in this climate), being carried 
down by numerous streams, and, upon contact with another 
force from ocean waves and tides, deposited upon the bot- 
tom. We see this going on now in the changing of the delta 
of the Atrato, only very much slower, because from the shel- 
tered position the action of the ocean is much less felt, and 
the influence of the many streams from the east side of the 
Gulf of Darien tend to carry the sediment of the Atrato 
farther seaward. 

The geology of the Napipi River and Cupica Bay is of 
special interest, as having been the line selected that pre- 
sented the most favorable features for the construction of a 
ship canal. Here the hills rise precipitously from the sea, 
and then slope away gradually till thej^ terminate in a plain 
reaching to the Atrato, with a fall of about o feet to a mile. 
The formation of the hills surrounding Cupica Bay and the 
divide is trappean, and a closer examination of its mineral- 
ogical properties would constitute them principally as what 
is known in petrograph}^ as "hornblende anderite." Once 
over the divide, we have a stretch of some 3 miles of table 
land interspersed with clay hills of a moderate height. After 
descending into the plain, the outcropxjings of rock become 
rarer as one proceeds, and often so decomposed as to be cut 
with a knife; and near the Atrato a stratum of decaj^ed leaves 
is frequently met with below the surface, overlying red and 
blue clay. The rock at Cupica Bay, at the falls of the Limon 
River, and upon the Napipi, indicates great densit}^ and 
hardness; but the question of being self-sustaining can only 
be satisfactorily ascertained by boring. 

No minerals were found during these explorations between 
the Atrato and the Pacific Ocean, though the formation is 
favorable to gold, and considerable quantities of the precious 
metal are obtained in the rivers that rise in the Antioquian 
range, which is of a similar formation. 

Gold ornaments of ancient manufacture have been found 
in the bed of the Napipi River, and I have been told b}^ the 
Indians that there is gold in the mountains, though they 
always refused to give any information in regard to it. 


A very important discovery of coal was made in the region 
bordering upon tlie east side of the Gulf of Darien. an anal- 
ysis and report of which, by Professor Barker, of Yale Col- 
lege, is appended to this report. 

The survey of the Tuyra developed the general geological 
features of the Napipi. Interesting specimens of fossilized 
shells, embedded in rock and detached bowlders, were found 
at various points on the Tuj'^ra, and even on the top of hills — 
an additional proof that this formation comes within the 
later Tertiary formation. 

Fossilized coral is found in the bed of the Chagres, 30 
miles from the sea, and at a considerable altitude, while at 
the same place will be gathered pebbles of quartz, jasper, 
agate — all belonging to a different period than fossils. 


(Report of 1873.) 

Much has already been said of the nature of the country, 
and difficulties to be encountered, in the vallej^ of the Napipi 
in my previous report. 

But as the value of this route depends so entirely upon 
the capacity of ship navigation of the river Atrato up to the 
point we leave it to cross to the Pacific Ocean by an artificial 
cut, I will again allude to it before proceeding to discuss the 
general features of the new proposed line. 

Our knowledge of the Atrato is based upon a complete line 
of soundings, run by Commander Lull, for the whole dis- 
tance, from the mouth of the Napipi to the mouth of the 
Atrato, who made the survey in his gig, taking soundings 
every five minutes. So important is the fact of the great 
depth of the Atrato that I append his letter to me on his 
return, as also one from the officer who accompanied him. 
Lieutenant Merrill : 

United States Ship Guard, Fourth Rate, 
Gulf of Darien, United States of Colombia, May 1, 1871. 
Sir: I would respectfully inform you that, in obedience to your order, 
I have examined the river Atrato, from the mouth of the Napipi down 
to the mouth of the Cacarica, sounding as rapidly as possible, while 
pulling gently with the current, in the gig of this ship, making a run- 
ning traverse at the same. 


The least water found in the channel of the river was 28 feet although 
the surface was at least 6 feet below high water; we frequently found 
over 12 fathoms. There are very few obstructions, in the shape of snags, 
etc. All that we saw could be cleared away in a single day's work by 
a steamer. 

The channel follows the curves of the shore so exactly that any pilot, 
after once going up or down the river, could never after make a mistake 
with regard to it. It is the clearest river I have ever seen. 

The river bottom is all soft mud; we did not discover a single rock or 
stone the whole distance. 

I beg to say that I use superlative language advisedly in speaking of 
this river, as its advantages for navigating purposes struck me as being 
so remarkable that I examined it with great care. 

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Edward P. Lull, 

Commander Thos. O. Selfridge, 

Commanding Darien Exploring Expedition. 

Marshall, Mich., August 5, 1873. 
Sir: I accompanied Commander Edward P. Lull, U. S. Navy, on the 
survey of the Atrato River, and am confident that, after crossing the 
bar at the mouth, there will be no difficulty in carrying 26 feet of water 
to the mouth of the Napipi. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

John P. Merrill, 
Lieutenarit, U. S. Navy. 
Commander Thos. O. Selfridge, 

U. S. Navy, commanding Darien Expedition. 

No one who has visited this river and floated upon its sur- 
face as I have can but be struck with the grandeur of this 
mighty flow of water and can but feel that it has been 
designed by the Almighty to bear a more important part in 
the great economy of the world's progress than the carrying 
of the little crafts which are now its sole navigators. 

That the Atrato is entirely and wholly capable of ship 
navigation to the Napipi is a fact that no longer admits of 
any doubt. 


The Atrato spreads itself out into a delta at least 20 miles 
in length, and empties by 13 mouths into the sea. 

The great difficulty that has been met in the permanent 

improvement of the mouths of all the rivers that empty into 

the Gulf of Mexico is the shifting character of the sands, 

caused by the action of the sea swell, and which requires the 

12312—03 16 


constant use of the dredge, as at the nioutli of the Missis- 
sippi, where the storm of a single night may open a channel 
entirely different from the one in nse. AVhile nearlj^ all the 
mouths of the Atrato are exposed to this same influence 
that one known as the Uraba is an exception, as it empties 
into an almost land-locked harbor, the surface of Avhich is 
hardly ruffled. This fact gives the character of its bar a 
permanence which none of the others possess in the same 
degree. Specimens of boring at a depth of 18 feet below the 
surface indicate that it is composed entirel}^ of black and 
white sand whose geological properties are the same as the 
hills from which the tributaries of the Atrato flow. I was 
also struck b}^ the fact that as soon as we crossed the bar to 
a point where the overflow was restrained by the growth of 
plants, then did the depth commence to increase, and as soon 
as the flow was confined by banks compact enough to sustain 
vegetation, the water at once deei^ened to five fathoms. 
This action of nature to my mind was conclusive proof that 
if the current was confined by artificial banks and the in- 
closed distance dredged to the required depth there would 
be a permanent channel requiring no further outlaj^ to keep 

From the ten-fathom line to a depth of five fathoms in the 
Uraba Branch it is about 2,500 feet. There would be re- 
quired for a double row of piling the whole of this distance 
10,000 trees 30 feet long and 1 foot or more in diameter. 
Trees of the variet}^ known as the cedron, guallaca, or 
truntago, chacajo, and insive can all be cut on or near the 
Atrato and its tributaries. These varieties are all hard and 
very durable, of a specific gravity less than water, and could 
be therefore floated to the desired spot and driven at a cost 
not exceeding 15 per pile. 

For a channel 300 feet wide and a depth of 26 feet of water, 
there would require to be removed 640,000 cubic j^ards of 
material. The expense, therefore, of the required improve- 
ment at the mouth of the Atrato would be : 

10,000 piles, $5 each $50,000 

640, 100 cubic yards material. 50 cents per cubic yard 320, 000 

370, 000 
25 per cent increase for contingencies 92, 500 

Total 462, 500 

***** -K- * 



(Survey of 1870.) 

We inquired of all the Indians, both men and boys, at Cale- 
donia Bay and at San Bias for the "curari" or "urari" poison, 
so often mentioned, but none of them appeared to have ever 
heard the name. They admitted that they used poison on 
their arrows, and after numerous attempts they brought us 
what they represented to be the bona fide poison. It was a 
watery liquid with a white precipitate at the bottom, which 
became milky by shaking. Thej^ by signs, gave us to under- 
stand that when it was intended to be particularly virulent it 
was necessary to expose it for three days in the sun, then 
mixed with a paste before applying it to the arrows. It 
turned out to be nothing but the juice of the manzanillo del 
playa. So, if this is their chief poison, and is the same as the 
"curari," it is not so much to be dreaded. Its effect appears 
to be different on different constitutions; on some, the juice 
will raise blisters, and the smoke of the burning wood will 
attack the eyes, while others experience no harm. The 
natives wash the injured parts in salt water, which is readily 
obtained, as the tree, fortunately^, only flourishes near the 
sea coast. The young leaves and fruit steeped in milk are 
also said to be a perfect antidote. That which we have is 
extremely volatile, giving off a strong smell of sulphureted 
hydrogen and other smells which we could not detect. From 
its volatile nature alone we would infer that it was only to be 
dreaded while fresh, although the Indians maintain that 
exposure to the sun for three days causes it to regain all its 
strength. We tried some of it on our hands when first 
obtained, and it had no effect bej^ond the stinging produced 
by acid; we also have made several experiments on rats and 
cats since our return. The animals appeared to grow sick 
after ten minutes, incling to cough or vomit, but in the course 
of an hour all unpleasant effects appeared to have passed 
away and they were as well as ever. 




(Survey of 1870.) 

Philadelphia, August 25, 1871. 

Sir: In this report the facts recorded will be for the most 
part such as fell under my own observation. I shall, how- 
ever, bring to bear on the subject information received from 
other sources, from the surgeons of the Eesaca and Guard, 
and of the Panama Railroad Company, from books, period- 
icals, etc. 

My services upon the Darien expedition lasted from 
December 3, 1870, to June 27, 1871. During that time I had 
medical charge of a surveying party for one hundred days, 
from February 22 to June 3, 1871, this service being a con- 
tinued one in the wildest portion of the Isthmus of Darien. 

The following is a summary of the amount of sickness, 
etc., during that time: 

Niiniber of men in party 24 

Admission to sick list 41 

Number of sick days 123 

Average time sick, days . . - 3 

Daily average 1 x^^o 

Daily percentage 5 

These numbers may appear large; they are realh^ the re- 
verse, for this statement includes every case, medical or sur- 
gical, excused from dut}^ from any cause however slight. No 
deaths occurred; no cases became chronic; no severe form of 
disease existed at anytime during the progress of the survej^ 
These observations appiy not only to the party which I accom- 
panied in the woods, but to the whole expedition, and for the 
whole time. 

Several other surveying parties were on other parts of the 
isthmus, and the greater part of the officers and crews of the 
Resaca and Guard had extra work to do on hydrographic and 
other duty connected with the survey. All were exposed to 
the direct raj^s of the burning sun, to the poison of malaria, 
or both. With the whole command the same sanitary pre- 
cautions were taken (which will be referred to hereafter), 
and with about equally good results. 

Malarial fevers (intermittent and remittent) formed the 
greater part of the cases, twenty-one of the admissions out of 


forty-one being cases of fever. Most of the other affections 
met with showed a distinct malarial impression, and all were 
benefited by the treatment proper to cases of fever. 

Many causes cooperated to produce cases of sici^ness, the 
first and most important one being the poison of malaria, to 
which we were constantly exposed. Many different opinions 
are held as to the nature of this peculiar poison, to none of 
which I need allude. All agree that for its production, vege- 
table decomposition, favored by heat and moisture, is neces- 
sary; that this decomposition is most active when there is 
no more moisture than is necessary for that purjjose. Un- 
commonly rainy seasons, followed by unusually dry ones, are 
very favorable to its development, as is every change by 
which a perpetual alteration of the water level is occasioned. 

These conditions were present during the whole time of 
our trip, most markedly so at the commencement and toward 
the end of our survey. At the commencement the rainy sea- 
son had ended, but the water which covers the lower portions 
of the country during this period had not yet had time to 
descend to its lowest point, and while we were ascending the 
river Cue the water was gradually falling, exposing masses 
of vegetable matter to decay, and constantly adding to the 
amount of malaria everywhere present. During the last 
month our survey took us over a very rough country, which, 
though generall}^ of the kind which a late author speaks of 
as "very active in the evolution of malaria," ("such as are 
traversed by percolating streams or canals in wooded districts, 
termed jangles,") was composed of a succession of hills and 
valleys extending from the mouth of the river Paya (em]3ty- 
ing into the Tuyra) to the town of Pinogana, a village some 
30 miles farther down. The weather was also such as to 
favor the production of malaria — rain for one or two daj^s, 
followed by hot, dry weather for a corresponding i)eriod. 
Other causes which had their influence in predisposing to 
disease may be merely alluded to; the fact of being compelled 
on many occasions to wear wet clothing, not onl}^ during the 
day, but at night, for, although ordinarily great care was 
taken to have the men put on dry clothes on finishing their 
work, it would often be impossible to keep drj^ owing to A^ery 
heavy rains and imperfect shelter inseparable from such work 
in a perfect wilderness. The effects from bites from hordes 
of various kinds of insects, etc., may be alluded to, not sim- 

244 N()T?:S ON PANAMA. 

ply from tlieir local effects wliich were sometimes severe, but 
from the loss of sleep occasioned by this persistent annoy- 
ance. In this connection the bites of vampire bats should be 
referred to, as the stories told of them are by many deemed 
rather apocryphal. We were troubled with them more or 
less during the whole time we were out, but ordinarily they 
did not prove a serious annoyance; toward the latter part of 
our trip, however, some one was bitten almost every night; 
one night, the 13th of May, nine men were bitten. The men 
were rarely awakened by the bites, which, however, bled 
freely, sufficient blood being usually lost to saturate the 
clothing, and to show its effects very perceptibly in the loss 
of color and general feeling of weakness experienced. 

1 have now to consider the reasons which, notwithstanding 
the various ijredisposing causes to disease, led to the general 
continuance in health of the various members of the expedi- 
tion. I would mention first, the fresh and most excellent 
water wiiich we always found without difficulty; second, 
having regular hours for meals, and the good food furnished, 
it being of better quality and of larger quantity than that 
furnished to any army or navy in the w^orld, amounting to 
53 ounces (3j^-q pounds) of solid food per diem for each man; 
third, the total absence of all causes of excitement; fourth, 
the absence of all kinds of intoxicating liquors; the care 
taken to have each one in the party wear flannel next the 
skin. The good influences to be expected, a priori, from 
these causes are so evident that it will be needless to dwell 
upon them. As to the prophylactic use of quinine, some 
words will be necessary. With us the sulphate of quinia 
was used regularly from the time of starting out and contin- 
ued during the whole period, with the exception of some 
three or four days. Before that time we had had but three 
cases of fever, all light attacks. At the end of the fourth 
day of The time in which the use of quinine was omitted, three 
men were attacked with the fever and on tlie following day 
three more. These six cases were in every respect the most 
serious ones I had to treat during the whole trip, though even 
they readily yielded in a few days to the free use of quinine. 
When these men were taken sick we were not exposed to a 
greater amount of malaria than before. The good effects of 
the daily use of quinine were so marked as to be readily per- 
ceived by even the sailors and macheteros of the party, with 


whom at first great difficulty was experienced in getting them 
to take the medicine. Afterwards, however, they never 
neglected to come for it when served out in the morning, and 
used frequently to ask at other times for extra doses. It was 
given usuall}^ immediatel}^ before breakfast, about half the 
time being administered in solution in whisky, four grains to 
the ounce for each dose. Occasionally, after extra exposure 
or an unusually hard daj^'s work, a dose would be given in 
the evening. During a portion of the time it was given 
suspended in clear, cold coffee, a method which masks most 
effectually the peculiar bitterness of the remedy; but I pre- 
fer, however, for small doses, the solution in whisky, the 
small amount of the latter in each dose being in itself very 

Quinine, as a prophylatic against fever, has long been 
used, and its good effects noted by all who have had experi- 
ence in its use. I shall introduce here two quotations from 
writers upon the isthmus: "In 1855 the use of quinine 
enabled the Panama Line of steamers to continue their 
service during the sickly season, and has ever since been 
found to reduce the number of sick in the service to a mere 
fraction of its former amount, while it preserved from disease 
in a remarkable manner the officers and dependents of the 
railroad company on the isthmus." Dr. I, K. Merrill, sur- 
geon of a mining and exploring party on the isthmus, states 
that "for more than two years the party enjoyed an almost 
complete immunity from miasmatic disease under the sys- 
tematic use of quinine. 

The proper mode of giving quinine in cases of fever is a 
question upon which there has been much discussion, the 
principal difference of opinion being whether it should be 
given in one or at most two large doses or in small doses 
frequently repeated. M}^ experience, which is in conformity 
with that of the surgeons of the Panama Railroad Company 
and that of a majority of the profession, is that one large 
dose — 15 to 25 grains — should be given as early as possible, 
either as soon as the paroxysm has subsided or, if a recur- 
rence of the attack is anticipated, in a short time, even at 
the commencement of the sweating stage, and with most 
excellent results. 

It may be noted as a fact of importance that the antifebrile 
influence of quinine does not coincide with its physiological 


effects, which are manifested almost immediately and sub- 
side in from six to eight hours. It is certain that the anti- 
febrile effects are manifested at a later period. 

A word as to the manner of administration of cjuinine in 
large doses. Pills are readity taken by many, but they soon 
become hard and insoluble. The solution with sulphuric acid 
is undoubtedl}^ the form in which it is most readily intro- 
duced into the s^^stem, but the taste is to many so unpleasant 
as to prove a matter of some importance in causing nausea 
and vomiting, which are easily produced in these fevers. I 
usually give it suspended in clear cold coffee, a mixture which 
a noted author says "produces a precipitate of the insoluble 
tannate of quinia, which is i^robably decomposed but slowly 
in tlie system." In every case, however, I found the physio- 
logical effects to be produced in about the same time as when 
given in the solution with aromatic sulphuric acid, and its 
curative effects were certainly as well marked as could be 
desired. When there is hepatic congestion the administra- 
tion of calomel is usually called for in connection with the use 
of quinine. Opium is in many cases a useful adjunct. One 
point more as to treatment, and that is to put in my Avord 
against the necessity of an}^ "preparation of the s^^stem" for 
the use of quinine hj the use of purgatives, emetics, or both, 
as recommended by many. It seems to me scarcel}^ ever 
necessarj^ and often absolutely hurtful, as valuable time is 
often thereby lost, the natural tendency of the disease itself 
being sufficiently exhausting without adding to it bj' such 
unnecessary drains upon the sj^stem. 

Whether the system can become even in a measure accli- 
mated to the 1)0 malaria is a question which seems 
to me should be decided in che negative, but upon this 
point "doctors disagree." Professor Aitken says, "It is now 
an established fact that no one can be acclimated so as to 
withstand the influence of malaria." Dr. Stephen Rogers 
says, "Gradual acclimation diminishes the danger of being- 
attacked by the more violent forms of miasmic disease." 

Upon the diseases other than malarial met with little need 
be said. We were troubled with various forms of skin affec- 
tions, which I here only allude to to note the good effects of 
carbolic acid, which was used in solution, one part of the acid 
to forty of water, and applied in almost every case. Its use 


was mostl}^ followed by immediate relief of itching, and a cure 
was generally accomplished in a few days. 

Is the climate of the Isthmus a very unhealthj^ one or not? 
This is a question about which there is a wonderful diversity 
of opinion. There seems to be a very widesjjread notion that 
it is not only very unhealthy, but one of the most pestilential 
places to be found, and thus most writers who have men- 
tioned the climate speak of it. Residents of the Isthmus, on 
the other hand, including the different medical men there, 
are unanimous in their assertions ttiat it is not unhealth3^ 
ThejMuaintain that they have fewer diseases on the Isthmus, 
and even proportionall}^ fewer cases of malarial fever, than 
are to be met with in various portions of the United States, 
and not only fewer cases, but cases of less dangerous type. 
It would be uncandid not to mention that yellow fever has at 
various times been prevalent on the Isthmus, and that when 
met with it has occurred as an epidemic of severe type; dur- 
ing the last one (which occurred in 1868) from 75 to 80 per 
cent of those attacked succumbed to the violence of the dis- 
ease. From as extended an observation of the country itself 
as I could make, from information derived from the statistics 
for the last three years of the medical service of the Panama 
Railroad Company, and from conversations with different 
medical men there I have reason to believe that the state- 
ments of the residents of the Isthmus as to their climate are sub- 
stantially correct, as far at least as the towns of Panama and 
Aspiuwall are concerned. 

It must be remembered, however, that malarial fevers are 
not usually met with in cities, and that the use of quinine as 
a prophylactic is there largely resorted to. In the smaller 
native villages, where this is not the case, fever of a violent 
type is very common, deaths occurring frequenth^ The con- 
clusion, therefore, seems to me evident that malaria is every- 
where present on the Isthmus, less so in the cities, but that 
its ill effects can to a great extent be prevented hj the use of 
small daily doses of quinine, with the observance of various 
hygienic rules, the use of flannel next the skin, the avoidance 
of the use of intoxicating drinks, and of exposure to the open 
air during the morning and evening, being careful to avoid 
exposure after extreme fatigue from any cause. AVith this 
care I am satisfied a long time may be spent on the Isthmus 


with but little detriment to lieiiltli; witliout such precaution, 
however, the effects of the climate are speedily shown, being 
first manifested upon the nervous system, langor, lethargy, 
loss of appetite being almost immediate results, fever and 
disease of the digestive organs following snrel}'' in due course 
of time. To conclude, it seems to me that the most practical 
point of this inquiry is, wliether in case of a ship canal being 
built across the Isthmus passengers would be exposed in 
transitu to malarial diseases? In view of the facts already 
noted, this seems to admit, without further argument, of a 
readj' answer in the negative. 



The Caledonia depression. — Rio Caledonia empties into the 
bay in front of its main entrance from the sea, where there is 
least protection from the surf caused by the northerly' trade 
winds. From the shore, and perhaps half a mile inland, the 
formation is coralline, slightly covered by the debris of the 
river. At a point about half a mile inland the valley becomes 
very decided, with a general width of about 1,000 feet, this 
width continuing to the " forks," at about 4^ miles from the 
river's mouth. The river here divides into two branches of 
nearly equal volume. The one coming from the southeast 
rises in high hills, and its valley — a veritable canyon — is 
broken by many cascades filled with huge bowlders. The 
trend of the valley is somewhat parallel to the divide, and 
offers no evident chance for an economical canal location. 
This river is probably the one that caused Gisborne's error. 
The other branch of the main river lies in a southwesterly 
direction — nearly at right angles to the divide — with a wide 
valley nearly similar to the main river for about a mile 
above the "forks," where it reaches the foot of the divide. 
There is a short, steep ascent in less than 1,000 feet from the 
creek bed to the divide's lowest point — 683 feet elevation — 
and then comes the gentle incline of the Pacific drainage. 


The Aglaseniqua Gaps. — The Rio Aglaseniqua empties into 
Caledonia Bay about a mile northwest of the Rio Caledonia, 
and is of smaller size. The general trend of the valley is east 
and west. Its watershed was fully developed by the surveys 
of party N'o. 1, showing that the depression made by its 
headwaters in the divide are at greater altitude than at the 
Rio Caledonia; also that the depressions have greater alti- 
tudes as \l\ej are farther away from that gap. The first two 
saddles are about 750 feet elevation, the next about 815 feet, 
then one over 1,000 feet, etc. 

Tlie Carreto Gap. — As this depression appears very low 
from the sea, a detailed examination of this vicinity was 
made, but this developed no advantages over the Caledonia 
Gap. Carreto Bay is well protected and has sufficient depth. 
The valley of the Rio Carreto is quite wide for several miles 
and then narrows to a rocky gorge that offers small chances 
for a canal location. The ascent from the river to the divide, 
with its least elevation 815 feet, is very steep; but then there 
is a flat slope to the Rio Chucunaqua. There is greater 
width of the Isthmus than at Caledonia Gap. 

Tlie Sassardl Gap). — A view of this depression from the sea 
suggests better possibilities than are realized after a detailed 
investigation. The Rio Sassardi enters Caledonia Bay in its 
northerly part, opposite a channel out to sea. There is a 
coastal plain over 2 miles from the beach which can be 
crossed in any direction with a canal line with but light work. 
Then the valley of the Rio Sassardi is badly broken by two 
interlocking spurs, which can not be passed by the easy 
curves necessary for a canal. The valley bej'Ond this point 
is favorable for about a mile, and then its tortuous course 
renders it unfavorable for canal purposes. From the river 
the Atlantic side of the continental divide is very steep. 
The least elevation in the depression is 1,098 feet, and from 
this point there is a steep descent to the Rio Morti. There 
is a clear view down this valley; and the Chucunaqua-Sabana 
divide appears as a flat, and bej^ond this was a low divide, 
probably in front of the Pacific Ocean. On a projected canal 
line through the Rio Sassardi and Rio Morti vallej^s, and 
crossing the low divide to the Rio Sabana, there would be a 
very short distance between tide water — probabh^ the shortest 
distance on the continent. 


San Bias depression. — A detailed examination of the i*egion 
of ]30ssible feasibility for a canal was made extending along 
the divide between the higli hills. The point of least eleva- 
tion, 956 feet, is at tlie headwaters of the most easterly 
branch of the Rio Carti. There are two other well-defined 
points of low elevations, one on either side of this low Carti 
pass. The one at an elevation of 994 feet, made by the 
headwaters of the Rio Samgandi, a tributar}^ of the Rio 
Mandinga; the other at an elevation of 1,070 feet, made by a 
branch of the Rio Carti. The narrow tortnous valleys of 
these streams offer serious, if not prohibitive, difficulties to 
any canal scheme. 

H« * H« ^ * * * 

Divide and Chagres Valley reconnaissance. — This survej', 
to prove the existence or nonexistence of a low gap between 
San Bias and Culebra, and incidentally developed ]3ortion of 
the Rio Chagres watershed for hydrological studies, has given 
what seems to be conclusive data. The divide is everywhere 
at a height greater than at Culebra or the San Bias gaps. 

>1< ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ 

It is curious to note how the animal trails followed the 
valleys and crest of ridges on the easiest lines of progress. 
The Indians in former days decided for themselves their 
lines of transisthmian communication with least work to 
their physical energies, in so successful a way that they were 
adopted by the conquering Spaniards. The tendency of 
primitive peo]3le is toward water communication as much as 
possible. This did not, however, lead the Indians astray on 
the Isthmus for they gave to the Spaniards the trails across 
the divide at Carreto, Caledonia, and Sassardi, and these 
are used to this day. 

The routes via the Rio Atrato received no favor from the 
early Spaniards or their followers, yet on these originated 
the supposed "mystery of straits," and it can not be doubted 
that canoes and boats have been passed from the Atlantic to 
the Pacific. This manner of communication is merely a 
curiosity without any value for the demands of the present. 
Balboa's expedition from Caledonia Bay to San Miguel Bay 


constituted the first recorded interoceanic survey of a route 
that has retained its fascination with the present generation 
of engineers. The Panama route was of a later date, the 
communication being then with Portobello on the Atlantic 
coast, for which a paved highway was constructed. With 
the coming of the Spaniards began the collection of data 
which at the present time offers much to the engineer stu- 
dent. Our efforts have added to these records extensive 
detail data regarding the more evident portion of the region 
of probable canal feasibility — referring to the vicinitj^ of San 
Bias and of Caledonia. 

The divide lies very close to the Atlantic coast all the way 
from Mandinga to Cape Tiburon and then, rising consider- 
ably in elevation, crosses in a southwesterly direction to the 
Pacific Ocean. 


The Isthmus of Darien extends from near San Bias to the 
Rio Atrato Yalle}^, lying almost wholly in the province of 
Panama, Republic of Colombia; a narrow strip along the 
Gulf of San Bias is part of the province of Colon. In our 
field of operation on the Atlantic side of the divide the coun- 
try was much broken up by a complex network of spurs. 
The watershed is very limited and there are no streams 
worthy of the name of river. Part of the narrow coastal 
plain is coralline in structure. A thick forest, abundantly 
tangled with vines, covers the whole surface of the country 
and is of such rapid growth that it easily holds in check the 
feeble efforts of the Indians at cultivation. The soil is, in 
general, a reddish clay overlying massive rock of volcanic 
origin, which can be seen exposed in the creeks. These rocks, 
of an eruptive character, are usually known as "trap," and 
for our purpose it is not necessary to go into the complex 
geologic or mineralogic terms. It is very xjrobable that the 
rock could be easily excavated by machines, but would be of 
little value for structural purpose on account of its tendency 
to disintegrate on exposure to the air. Syenite, granite, and 
sandstone were found in small quantities, but it is possible 
that exploration might develop beds of these. Many crystals 
and traces of iron and copper are found in the creek beds, 


but nowhere did we observe anj^ evidence of gold, and the 
Indians did not seem to liave anj^ native precious metals in 
their possession. 

Along the coast from Caledonia Bay to San Bias Point 
there is nearlj^ a continuous string of islands and reefs, which 
protect the shore of the mainland from the effects of severe 
storms and afford many safe anchorages. The islands are 
coralline in structure, and are covered thickly with cocoanut 
palms which jaeld superior cocoanuts. Along the coast from 
San Bias to Cape Tiburon there is a current of about 2 knots 
per hour. At Cape Tiburon this usuallj^ meets the waters of 
the Rio Atrato, if in flood, and is deflected across the Gulf 
of Darien and along the coast toward Cartagena. This coast- 
wise current proved verj^ annoying in our trips with sailing- 
vessels when opposed to its force, esijecially in the rainj^ sea- 
son after the northerly trade winds have ceased, and there 
are calms of considerable duration. At such times our sloop 
and schooner would helplessly drift with the current. Dur- 
ing the suspension of the trade winds there are fitful shore 
and sea breezes, usually at night, that would help us in 

The winds of the rainj^ season come intermittently as 
squalls, which are dangerous to sail vessels in their fierce 
outbursts, unless quick and sufficient preparations are made 
for their coming. 

There seems to be no evidence of recent volcanic action or 
records of earthquakes. 

Climate. — There are two seasons on the Isthmus, a wet and 
a dr}^ Their duration is not well defined, but usually the 
former lasts from May until January. During this time there 
is a suspension of the northerly trade winds and showers are 
very frequent, the rainfall probably approximating slightly 
more than half that at Grey town, Nicaragua. During the 
"dr}^" months there are usually light rains in the mountains 
each night. The temperature is very even, usually not vary- 
ing more than 15° during the year between the limits of 75° 
and 90° F. In the forest this temperature is delightful, and 
on the high hills the evenings are cold enough for blankets. 
The climate did not seem to have any deleterious effect by 
itself, and with proper sanitary discijDline it would probablj" 
not be disadvantageous for construction work. 


Inlicibitants. — The Indians of the Atlantic side of the Isth- 
mus of Darien make their homes on the coast, or prefer- 
ably the islands, and cultivate, in haphazard Avay, small 
patches of land on the coastal plain or river valleys, gather 
cocoanuts, and fish. Their features are of Indian type, but 
phj^sically they are inferior to most Indian races. Thej^ are 
apparently losing in numbers, due to mortality among the 
children. This is not suprising after seeing the insanitarj^ 
conditions of the villages. The men are verj' proficient in 
sailing or handling the dugout canoes that they fashion 
with much skill. In these they live most of the day, fishing, 
getting cocoanuts, or trading. Small trading vessels frequent 
the coast and exchange cloth and simple articles for cocoa- 
nuts and tortoise shell. The men seem to prefer the blue 
cotton cloth, but the women array themselves in gay yellow 
and red. The former wear large rings of a copper alloy in 
their ears, and the latter, in addition to these, have them in 
their noses, usually elongating the cartilage. There does not 
seem to be any definite tribal government, but each village 
has its chief, councilors, and a policeman who carries a carved 
staff of office. Coronet Inanaguina, with whom our treaties 
were made as head chief, is a creation of Colombian influ- 
ences, and the Indians, except near Sassardi, his home, did 
not seem to know or respect him. The whole Atlantic side 
of the Isthmus is uninhabited except these few people who 
live in their palm-thatched villages along the beach or on the 

There are Indians on the Rio Morti and Rio Sucubdi who 
come across the divide to the coast to trade. The Cv^.ast 
Indians seem to stand in great awe of these people and ex- 
plained their unfriendly attitude toward us by their dread 
of punishment by the mountain Indians if they welcomed 
us. The coast Indians are i3eaceable and never committed 
any overt act during our stay, but their fears, w^hich w^ere 
those of childish instinct, kept them restless until our depar- 
ture. Tneir dread of aggression is rightly inherited from 
their ancestors, who were ruthlessly sacrificed to the greed 
of the Conquistadors. While this feeling lingers with the 
old men, who alwaj^s govern in the villages, it is apparent 
that many of the Indians are less conservative. Some speak 
the English language quite well, on account of visits to 


Colon or having shipped as sailors. It is probable that the 
Indians will long retain their land, as there are no resources 
to tempt tlie foreigners. There does not seem to be any 
intermarriage of these people with other races; anj^ attempt 
would undoubtedly bring dire punishment. Medical treat- 
ment is very primitive and the Indians at times resort to 
incantations to heal. They appreciate the foreign doctor 
beyond their medical men, and were not slow to ask for much 
aid. Apparently any religion they may have had is now 
very slightly, if at all, observed. The Catholic priests of 
former da3'S seem to have made no important impressions of 
their creed. To-day the Indians have many curious carved 
wooden idols, and not onl^^ lack reverence, but at times will 
barter them. Plantains, fish, and land crabs are the main 
articles of diet, and these are subjected to very primitive 
cooker3^ The Indians practice monogamy in their marital 
relations and the son-in-law must serve the father-in-law for 
a certain period or give sufficient goods for his bride. 

Health. — It is probable our expedition would have as much 
or more sickness in most parts of the United States. The 
boils and sores that proved so troublesome were due to dietary 
indiscretions, poor cooking, and wading in the water. A few 
light cases of malarial fever yielded very rapidly to simple 
treatment. The exhausting hill climbing and jDacking of 
provisions told heavily on officers and laborers and made the 
way for the sickness with which we were afflicted. The In- 
dians after they pass childhood seem healthy and live to a 
considerable old age in spite of their slight attention to sani- 
tary measures. 

H< ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ H< 

Supplies. — Where provisions must be packed by laborers 
it is doubtful if so extensive rations are advisable, and it 
vfould be better to limit according to food values and bulk. 
Rice is the great food of the Tropics, and together with plan- 
tains should form the bulk of rations for officers and laborers. 
The effort to have them use corn meal was a failure ; it was 
too heating for the Tropics. Neither did mackerel appeal to 
the Colombian laborer's palate. Our cooks — mere water 
boilers — were to blame for many stomach discomforts, as 
they had to swim everything in grease. Many of the men 
suffered inconvenience from a lack of proper personal equip- 
ment, and this matter is discussed in Doctor Wickes's report. 


His remark in regard to the necessity of a physical examina- 
tion of men for such expeditions is very pertinent, as persons 
of physical inferiority certainly are a drag to progress, and 
then life is not a pleasant one in the severe demands of 
tropical survey's. 

H« * ^ ♦ H« ♦ * 

Labor. — The progress of our surveys were greatly limited 
by the inefficient native Colombian labor, and it has never 
been my misfortune to meet worse. We were, of course, 
limited to the men along the coast, and on account of the 
civil war most of these were hiding from military conscrip- 
tion. These men seemed to have little idea of patriotism, 
were indolent and capricious. The few men that filtered 
through from the interior were always noticeable as of supe- 
rior character. While the wages paid (20 pesos Colombian 
silver per month) were far in excess of country rates, and they 
were fed with lavish generosity and even clothed, yet all 
these they failed to appreciate when they were coupled with 
work; rather the hand-to-mouth living and the continual 
siesta, while clothes were not thought a necessity of the 
Tropics. All laborers had to be advanced monej^ before 
they would think of going with lis, but they were faithful to 
this obligation. 

^ ^ ^ H< * . * ^ 

We could not prevail on the San Bias Indians to work, but 
this was not entirel}'' due to aversion to labor, but partly 
in conformance with their uncompromising attitude of not 
rendering us any assistance. 

***** Hs * 

Camps. — It was impossible to find thatching for shacks in 
abundance, as in Nicaragua, forcing us to provide tents, or, 
rather, large canvas tarpaulins w^ere used. As these were 
not painted or otherwise treated they deteriorated rapidly 
from mildew. 

* * * * * :}; ^ 


We reached Cartagena, Colombia, November 16. A revo- 
lution was then in progress, and with difficulty a small force 
of laborers was secured to do the packing and clearing for 
12312—03 17 


the expedition. November 24 we left Cartagena on the Scor- 
pion, and reached Caledonia Bay the day follOwin.iy. The 
Indians who came aboard and hovered around were very 
much opposed to our landing. In consequence, landing was 
postponed until several consultations had been held with 
them, and a treaty finally arranged. 

* * ^ hj * * * 

Most of the work of both parties in December was confined 
to the country that could be reached from the camp at Cale- 
donia Bay. Early in January, Mr. Ehle having arrived with 
a considerable force of men, our party moved camp south to 
the forks of Caledonia River, and about a month later to a 
site on the east fork, 8 miles by the river from the supply 
camp at its mouth, and 2^ miles in a straight line from the 
nearest point of coast. March 13-14, camp was moved to 
the supply station at Caledonia Bay, and shortly afterwards 
to a site on the west fork of river. From these points as a 
base the Caledonia watershed was explored. 

The higher parts of the ridge were hard to reach on account 
of the rugged nature of the ravines, and the labor of cutting 
trails on ridges. It was necessary to camp near the summit, 
building booths of leaves. The correct ridge at certain points 
was hard to find, involving much experimental work. Except 
a few Indian plantations near the coast, the country is all 
forest. If it should be attempted at any time to trace the 
divide from Carreto east, it would be wise to make prepara- 
tions to live on the country b}^ hunting and fishing as much 
as possible, as, owing to the distance, it would be difficult to 
reach the coast. 

There was a considerable amount of sickness in the Cale- 
donia camps, but nothing of a serious nature. Boils were 
very troublesome. When severe, they entirelj' incapacitated 
a man from work, especially those on the feet and legs. It 
was suspected that they might have been caused in part by 
the use of leggings during the earlier months of survey. 

April 11 our party sailed from Caledonia to Carreto Bay, 
and commenced the survey of the watershed of Carreto River. 
Our first line followed the river in a southwesterly direction 
to an elevation of 395 feet, at a point where the river gorge 


turns toward the southeast. Here we left the river, and 
going west crossed the divide at an elevation of 953 feet at a 
point 500 yards distant from the riter. By another line, 
leaving the river lower down, we crossed the divide in a gap, 
elevation 815 feet, distant 1 mile to the northwest in an 
air line from the first gap explored. The last-mentioned gap 
is very low compared to the ground elevations on the Pacific 
side, where the stream falls off very slowly. We followed 
the water courses on the Pacific slope down to an elevation of 
750 feet on bank of stream, at a point 4,000 feet from the first 
gap and 3,000 from the second, and considerably farther by 
the meanderings of the streams. The streams that flow from 
the two gaps unite and form one creek at a point a few hun- 
dred yards short of the farthest point reached. This low 
point in the divide corresponds to the gap in the horizon 
observed from the day before commencing the survey. It is 
about 1^ miles southeast in an air line from the farthest point 
on the ridge reached by reconnaissance of the Caledonia 
watershed, the barometer elevation of which was 1,625 feet. 

The upper part of the Carreto Valley or ravine is rough. 
The line of survey avoided a half mile of its course by a 
detour over a hill 650 feet high, the bottom of ravine being 
impassable at that point. 

On completion of the Carreto survey, a stadia line was run 
to connect with the Caledonia surveys. We followed an 
Indian trail and the coast line to a point near Point Escoces, 
supposed .to be the site of old Fort St. Andrew; thence across 
the bay and up a stream to a connection with one of the Cale- 
donia lines. All lines on the Carreto survey were run by 
stadia measurements and needle bearings, elevations being 
taken with the level. 

The conduct of the Indians at Caledonia Bay was in 
general indifferent. But during the absence of the Scorpion 
previous to March 14, the occasion on which we moved camp 
to the shores, much uneasiness was felt concerning their atti- 
tude. Our party did not come much in contact with them 
except by communication with the supply camp at Caledonia 
Baj^ The Carreto Indians were friendly, a fact which was 
gratifying and of substantial advantage, in view of the sup- 
plies of fruit and occasional game which we secured from 



The working eamp Avas located a quarter of a mile up the 
Nercalaqua River, with party No. 4 on the opposite or west 
side of tlie river. Here the fresh water was not affected by 
the tide. 


The scope of the work hoped to be attained by this expe- 
dition had as a prime object of a more thorough exploration 
of the passes at the headwaters of the Carti River than had 
been accomplished by the earlier surveys. 


The valley of the Carti River was reached in 7 miles bj^ a 
broken line, following the most favorable ridges to facilitate 
our progress and to meet the requirements of a simple con- 
necting line. These ridges were composed of rocky spurs 
reaching a maximum elevation of 420 feet, thinly covered 
with the residual yellow clay, but affording foothold for the 
enshrouding tropical forest that is existent from ocean to 
ocean. For the first mile and a half we covered the low and 
at times marshy coastal plain. This is the land on which 
the San Bias Indians make a futile effort to subdue the over- 
whelming tropical growth for the cultivation of the banana, 
cane, cocoanut, alligator pears, coffee, etc. At 3^ miles from 
the beach we encountered an unmapped river of considerable 
size that floAvs directly to the sea. Camp No. 3 was estab- 
lished on the banks of the Carti, at an elevation of 60 feet. 

^ :j; * :^ :5< * * 

The Carti River, here averaging 150 feet wide, was well 
suited to a meander line, though forcing the men to wade 
continually, but was impracticable for a packing trail. The 
laborers thus relieved from chopping were put to Avork clear- 
ing a more favorable trail along the crest of the ridges that 
held the general direction of the river. At points we were 
thus a mile aAvay, but at intervals Avere forced in near the 
river by the larger tributaries, which was taken advantage of 
for camping ground, to be near the A\^ork. 

After the bed of the river attained an elevation of 300 
feet, the surrounding range of hills increased in height, tow- 
ering up from the water's edge narrowing the channel to al- 
most impassable rocky canyons through which the water 


rushed with torrential force. This state of the river contin- 
ued until the very headwaters were reached at the pass lo- 
cated at an elevation of 956 feet, and as measured by our 
traverse line 20 miles from the zero point on the beach. This 
summit proved to be the lowest of any subsequentlj^ discov- 
ered in this region. 

^ ^ :54 siJ :i« ^ ^ 

Climate. — At our beach camp it was generally hot and sti- 
fling, rendered burdensome by the mosquitoes at night, and 
a minute gnat at all times. Still the men in charge the of 
commissar}^ camp and the doctor attached to our party be- 
came accustomed to these discomforts and remained there 
the season through without any ill effects from the location. 
When once an elevation of 100 feet was attained, or even 50 
feet, a noticeable improvement was felt, the woods and soil 
laden with moisture had a decided tendency to modify and 
temper the rays of the sun. At night a light covering was 
always desirable and the mosquito nets were alwaj^s used as 
a protection against heavy dews. At an elevation of 1,500 
feet the atmosphere was invigorating to a marked degree, 
but usually toward sundown clouds lieavily laden with mois- 
ture came rolling up from the Atlantic side, enveloping our 
camp in a dense fog, the dampness penetrating our clothing 
and bedding much to our discomfort. Our fieldwork, con- 
tinuing from the middle of January to the latter part of May, 
was favored by the dry season; however, there was enough 
rain failing, usually a soaking shower once a week, to start 
all vegetation and thus keeping the ground saturated and 
giving rise to running rivulets in all arroyos even at the 
highest elevations. The continued healthfnlness of our party 
was doubtless in a great measure due to the cool and pure 
water alwaj-s at hand. 

The San Bias Indians. — The small islands along the coast 
encircling Mandinga Harbor are clustered with the dwellings 
of a numerous branch of the ancient tribe of the San Bias 
Indians, which they inhabit to the exclusion of the main- 
land, thus obtaining full benefit of the cooling trade winds. 
Here in this isolated position they live a life of independence, 
with no restraint from the Colombian Government, claiming 
the mainland by family allotment, submitting to their tribal 
regulations peacefully, and having duly appointed executives. 
They are industrious to a marked degree, constantly fishing, 


clearing np siiuill patches for cultivation, or gathering the 
ripening fruits and nuts and disposing of the surplus in 
Colon in exchange for domestic necessities. They present a 
picturesque sight while skillfully handling their small canoes 
in the open Gulf or paddling up the navigable rivers. 

^ H: ^ sij H« Hs * 

As long as our camps were accessible from navigable 
streams we were frequentlj^ visited by curious groups of In- 
dians, but were never molested b}^ them further than missing 
a few tins of supplies that were left unprotected, for they 
were generally attending to their own affairs. These Indians 
will likely be permitted to retain possession of these islands 
for all time, for the interior is doomed to remain a wilderness. 


General report relative to the exploration of the Isthmus 
from the Mandinga Pass to the source of the Rio Chagres and 
down the river to Gorgona, on the Panama Railroad. 

The object of this exploration was to * * * determine 
the existence of a pass in the Cordillera lower than 1,000 
feet, if such a pass existed; also, to learn the general char- 
acter of the topography, flora, and geology of this section, 
which has heretofore been an unknown wilderness. 

While the laborers were packing provisions from the com- 
missary I was personall}' occupied in exploring the valley 
to the south and on the Pacific side. This valley is a part 
of the drainage of the Rio Chepo, and the river is as large as 
the Carti. It heads due west in the high mountains, and 
as it does not appear on the map I assumed that hereto- 
fore it was unknown except to the Indians, and named it 
"Rio Gaston." The Batler River, shown on the Selfridge 
map, flows into this river to tlie south and east of the Man- 
dinga Pass. I also followed the divide to the west for a dis- 
tance of a mile and a half, and located our second camp close 
to a fine spring. 

On Saturday, May 5, five weeks' provisions were at camp 
No. 1, and earl}^ that morning we broke camp and made our 
real start along the divide for the Chagres River. 


The work \Yas distributed among the officers and men, as 
follows: Myself and one native did the advance scouting, 
blazing the trail along the divide and determining as far as 
possible the most feasible path for a packing trail. Owing 
to the peculiar conformation of the divide along this part 
of the Isthmus, this work proved slow and exceedingly ardu- 
ous. To find the divide and trace it, we were compelled 
many times to climb down from the summit of the high 
ridges to deep gorges, often 500 or a thousand feet deep, 
then slowly and with infinite labor follow up the stream to 
its source. This operation would be sometimes repeated on 
the opposite side, thus making doubly sure of our position; 
then cutting back along the divide to our trail, we were able 
to carry the advance scouting along the backbone of the 

Owing to the almost impenetrable jungle vegetation, our 
progress was often slow, yet in the face of all the trying and 
fatiguing labor of tracing the continental divide, our prog- 
ress averaged about 1 mile per daj^ up to the time we reached 
the headwaters of the Chagres, on May 18. 

Hs Si< H« 4^ ^ ^ H« 

At every step of our progress along the divide unusual 
difficulties met us. The crest of the Cordillera from San 
Bias to the Chagres was covered with a mass of wet, slimy, 
creeping vines, binding the dense underbrush into a solid 
mass of undergrowth. The divide itself is an almost inex- 
plainable factor in its erratic windings. The series of nearly 
parallel ridges running with the axis of the Isthmus form 
only so many links in the chain. These high ridges are 
connected by two traverse ridges, usually so low and obscure 
that their presence, even when the view is unobstructed, is 
uncertain, and at a season of the year when it rains almost 
every hour of the day it is impossible to know where or when 
to look for them. The advance work of cutting a path along 
the crest of the divide, and being able to follow it from ridge 
to ridge, is a most serious problem, and even when condi- 
tions are favorable, which seldom occurs, the work Is most 

The topography of this part of the Isthmus consists of 
three main ridges running approximately east and west Avith 
the Isthmus. There is a high mountain range lying between 
the Pacific and the Rio Gaston that swini^rs to the north 


near the head of the Rio Chagres and forms the Cordillera 
proper; also another range of mountains that runs out on 
San Bias Point and joins the main range near the same place 
as the range on the south. Between these three ranges there 
are innumerable spurs and low ridges, separated by deep 
gorges and narrow valleys. At the point where the moun- 
tain range on the south and from San Bias Point joins the 
Cordillera occurs the highest mass of mountains. This, as 
shown by the profile, reaches an elevation of nearly 3,000 
feet. From the Mandinga Pass, at an elevation of 994 feet, 
the gradient is uniformly ascending to tlie summit of the 
mountain, and is indicated on the map as "Brewster Peak." 
The flora of the divide is almost identical with that found 
at San Bias and other parts of the Isthmus, excepting possi- 
bly a less marked tropical vegetation. This can be accounted 
for by the higher altitude, and it impressed us as being more 
subtropical. There are few valuable woods aside from an 
occasional mahogany or cedar. The palm famil}^ is poorly 
represented. Only one species attracted our attention, and 
unfortunatel}^ only the local Indian name w^as secured, viz, 
"Palma amarga." This palm is peculiar in its giant leaves, 
which are circular and fully 4 to 6 feet across the solid cen- 
tral part, and from this solid part radiate long pendants, 
making the leaf fully 8 or 10 feet in diameter. The trunk is 
covered with a hairy fiber, which makes it appear much 
larger than it really is. This tree is onl}^ found in one small 
locality and at an elevation of about 2,500 feet. The geolog- 
ical formation is difficult to describe, owing to the fact that 
all rock exposed to the action of the atmosphere is rotten. A 
few general observations were made as o^jport unity offered. 
The rock formation is granite and composed of two principal 
varieties, namely, a dark blue and a variegated gray granite. 
Often these two kinds of stone would be found cemented 
together, with the line of demarcation cut sharp, while the 
mass itself was one. The most prominent feature noticed 
relative to the general character of the rock was its dip. 
This wherever its stratification was observable was found to 
dip toward the south or Pacific side at an angle of 10 to 15°. 
This observation was borne out by the fact that all springs 
on the Atlantic side are from 300 to 1,000 feet below the crest 
of the divide, while on the Pacific side water can often be 
found at the head of the water courses and within a few feet 


of the summit of the backbone. Only in two instances did 
we find traces of volcanic action, and these were on spurs 
of the divide and might have been caused by a buckling, 
due to a sudden lift and cooling and then dropping to the 
normal level. It is safe to saj^ that very little evidence of 
volcanic action is to be found between San Bias and Panama. 

On reaching the summit of Brewster Peak, May 18, it was 
quite evident that at last we were in the watershed of the 
Chagres River. At this point the continental divide swings 
to the southwest for a distance of 2 or 3 miles, where it meets 
and joins a high mountain range, running parallel to the 
Pacific coast. From the top of Brewster Peak we had a fine 
view down a valley running nearly S. 60 W. As this w^as 
almost the first clear day since leaving the Mandinga Pass, 
it seemed quite providential that such an opportunity was 
offered to verify our position by surrounding conditions. Up 
to this time we had kept a rough traverse, that our location 
might be approximately known, and our position on the map 
so nearly coincided with our surroundings that we felt con- 
fident in our position. Other observations from this moun- 
tain developed the fact that the Mandinga River heads on the 
northeast side and the Rio Gaston on the south side, while 
the Rio Chagres finds its head near the summit on the south- 
west face. 

Leading off from the mountain there is a long spur fully 
three-quarters of a mile in length, which leads down to 
the river on the north side. As the spur runs in the direc- 
tion of the valley, we followed it down the river. Previously 
I had explored the stream and found it to be so hemmed in 
by perpendicular rocks that it was impossible to follow down 
the bed of the stream. Like all other water courses in this 
section the amount of water collected in a given area is sur- 
prisingly large, and when we reached the river scarcely 1 
mile from its head, we found fully 10 cubic feet of water 
flowing per second and increasing rapidly as we went down 
the river. About one-half mile below this point, which is 
indicated on the map as Camp I^o. 6, the river narrows up, 
and for three-quarters of a mile there is a deep gorge, neces- 
sitating the cutting of a trail up an almost perpendicular 
bluff and down on the other side of the bluff to the river. 
Although the difficulties we had met on the divide had been 
many, yet their aggregate was less fatiguing than the work 


of cutting a trail up these bluffs and around the gorges, 
which became so many and so difficult of passage that we 
were at one time tempted to leave the river for tlie hills, but 
this was abandoned after one trial, as it carried us a long 
wa}^ from the river. On coming back to the river we found 
another goi'ge just below which proved more serious to pass 
than any of the previous ones, as it was nearly- 5 miles long. 
Repeatedly we had to cut a path up an almost perpendicular 
bluff, down over detached bowlders and through a labyrinth 
of vines, and as at this time we were, both officers and men, 
packing from 30 to 50 pounds on our backs, the labor can 
well be imagined. In this gorge the channel varies from 20 
to 50 feet in width, and the depth of the water is from 10 to 
30 feet. The appearance of these gorges indicates that the 
river is following a fissure, caused by an earthquake, which 
opened a huge crevice parallel with and along the north side 
of the divide. Up to this last gorge, named Danta Canyon, 
there were three considerable streams entering the Chagres — 
two from the north and one from the south. The most 
noticeable feature of these streams was the marked differ- 
ence in the color of the water, as well as the marked change 
in the temperature. The streams from the south were all as 
clear as crystal and the water cold, evidently coming from 
high altitudes and running over a rocky bed. The streams 
entering from the north were all greatly discolored, having 
the appearance of swamp water, and the temperature was 
several degrees warmer. Why this difference should exist I 
am unable to state, as our observation from the top of the 
hills failed to locate any area sufficiently level to admit a 
swamj). The discoloration maj^ be due to an alluvial soil 
through which the I'ivers flow. This can easily be, as there 
evidently is a section lying between the mountains forming 
the divide and the range that runs close to Portobello, where 
the rock is less pronounced, and consequently there is a 
greater amount of soil over the rock, through which the 
water finds its course. 

From the source of the Chagres down several miles the 
river drops at the rate of 200 feet per mile, and then there is 
a uniform drop of 25 feet to the mile until we reach Santa 
Barbara, the upper gaging station. This rate of descent in 
the river makes a series of rapids. While not continuous, 
they are so close together that only a few hundred feet sepa- 


rate them. The channel where the rapids are most numerous 
is filled with bowlders from the size of a man's head to the 
size of an omnibus. As the water rushes over and between 
the rocks it is churned into a white foam. The perpendicular 
rocks often compelled us to cross these rapids to gain a better 
footing on the other side. As some of the men were unable 
to swim, a sense of relief was always felt when all were 
safely across. Often long poles would have to be held out in 
the channel to give support to the weaker men, as the swift 
current would catch them in midstream. On several occa- 
sions the men and packs were completel}^ submerged and had 
to be pulled ashore by the men holding the poles on the bank. 
Although these incidents were often dangerous, yet they 
furnished much merriment, which greatly relieved the monot- 
ony of the laborious work of packing and travel. This work 
was continued from May 18 until May 26, when the difficul- 
ties became so great that we determined to build rafts and, 
if possible, make greater speed even at gi eater personal risk. 

On Saturday afternoon. May 26, after working our way 
over a high bluff and through an almost impassable canyon, 
we stopped and began the work of raft building. This 
proved less difficult than at first expected. Along the banks 
there were plenty of trees, known to the natives as "balsa," 
which make an ideal raft owing to its wonderful cork-like 
nature. The rafts were about 8 feet long and 5 feet wide, 
bound together by crosspieces securely pinned to the logs. 
Although these rafts were comparatively small, yet they 
would carry safely 500 pounds. 

On Saturday morning. May 27, the finishing touches were 
given to the five rafts, and at 9 o'clock our baggage and pro- 
visions were securely- lashed to the rafts, and the personnel 
of the crews determined by distributing the poor men among 
the experienced men. On the two rafts in the lead, and this 
position was maintained during the entire trip, were Mr. 
Philips, Mr. Coates, and myself, with two trusty natives. 
The two days on the rafts furnished many exciting incidents 
as we whirled in and out among the rocks or slowlj^ poled 
our way through the still water. Often in shooting the rap- 
ids we would strike great bowlders in midstream, or at a sharp 
angle in the channel we would be thrown on the rocks, often 
with such force that we were unable to keej) our footing and 
so would be thrown into the river; yet with all the many 


upsets and duckings that we were subjected to we readied 
Santa Barbara safely and without anj' serious accidents. In 
looking back over the trip from the time we left the pass 
until we reached the gaging station, it seems almost provi- 
dential that we escaped serious accidents and sickness. Our 
nights were spent in the jungle or on tlie sand banks, often 
Avithout protection from the elements, and the days were 
passed in the most difficult work of climbing rugged hills and 
down gorges or in shooting rapids where bowlders were as 
thick as pebbles. During this trip no signs of Indians were 
found, and as far as the observations of the party go, there 
are no Indians between the Gulf of San Bias and Santa Bar- 
bara on the Chagres River, There w^ere many stories circu- 
lated relative to the Indians on this part of the Isthmus, and 
we expected to be fed on poisoned arrow^s and have the 
nights made hideous b}^ the fear of massacre; but these 
stories were merely myths, emanating from timid people. 

The animal life is exceptionally meager, even the ever- 
present monkey seems to feel lonely in the solitude of this 
vast wilderness. An occasional tiger track was the only in- 
dication that the animal lived at all in this section. The 
wild hogs, so plentiful in Nicaragua, are seldom found on tliis 
part of the Isthmus. Wild turkey and a large "pava" are 
found in sections, but not plentiful enough to be depended 
upon for meat. The ''danta," or tapir, are numerous along 
the upper waters of the Chagres, and as they have never 
been hunted or disturbed by man, there was little difficulty 
in shooting them. There are ver}^ few snakes to be found 
in an 3^ place along our survey on the Nercalagua or the divide. 
Why this fact should be, not only relative to the snakes, but 
to all animal life, seems to be an unanswered question, unless 
it be the dividing line betwwen North and South America in 
the animal and vegetable world. 



During the dry season there were occasional heavy down- 
falls of rain occurring through the day, as a rule. After 
May 1 the bulk of the rain fell between sunset and sunrise. 


The wetting from rain had 1^' tie effect on the men's health, 
as they were eontinuall}^^ wet from day to day from wading 
the mountain streams. Prolonged exertion when chilled by 
water-soaked garments predisposed one to slight febrile 
attacks and bilious fever. The danger of this was greatly 
lessened b}' a bath followed by a brisk rub down on the 
return to camj). The greater part of the work of the survey 
was done at an elevation of over three hundred feet, so the 
men were not exposed to the worst form of the tropical 
climate. The absence of swamps and mosquitoes at this 
elevation precluded the infection of malarial fever, while the 
dense growth of trees, vines, and underbrush was a complete 
protection from the sun. It can not be said that the men 
suffered much from the climate. Enervation and bilious fever 
were about all that could be charged up agains it. The 
first was a natural and expected result, and the latter was 
due more to the lack of physical condition of some of the 
men than to the effect of the climate. None of the officers 
was subjected to a i^hysical examination before starting for 
the Isthmus, and naturallj' many of them were ill-conditioned. 
Men who are at all inclined to stoutness do not stand hard 
work well in this climate. There was no case of isolation in 
any of the parties. 


(a) Sic amp sores. — The affection locally known as "swamp 
sore" differs but little from the indolent ulcer in description, 
progress, course, and treatment. This, though a minor ail- 
ment, was the most annoj'ing and frequent ailment with which 
the writer had to contend. The development of swamp sores 
depended on several conditions, as follows: In certain local- 
ities along the seacoast or in swampy districts biting insects 
became yqvj numerous and troublesome. The itching occa- 
sioned by gnats, sandflies, and mosquitoes was at first slight 
and easily bearable. This irritation gradually increased in 
severity and became so unbearable that to refrain from 
scratching the points of the itching skin was eventually an 
impossibility. Many of the officers were unable to sleep 
until they had at first scratched the epidermis from the bitten 
area. Others Avould seek the same relief from the intolerable 
itching in their sleep. This resulted in numerous raw, in- 
flamed surfaces which were prevented from healing through 


the constant wading necessitated by the woi-k of tlie survey. 
It was noticed tliat those wearing canvas leggings suffered 
most from swamp sores. Infection naturally followed the 
delayed healing of the primary abrasion. The ulcers were 
mostly confined to the lower limbs, though a few developed 
on the arms. They were not observed on any other part of tlie 
bod}^ In appearance these sores resemble any small super- 
ficial ulcer. The}^ are red, inflamed, irregular-shaped depi-es- 
sions, some round, others oval, and var3'ing in size from that 
of a dime to a 25-cent piece. While actively inflamed the 
border and base is irregular and angry looking, but during 
the subsequent process of cicatrization they present a smooth 
I)unched-out appearance. The secretion is a characteristic, 
clear sero-purulent fluid which may be slightly sanguineous 
at times. This secretion is constantly collecting beneath a 
crust of false cicatrization which alternately breaks, dis- 
charges, and re-forms during the active stage of the sore. 
These sores may be single or multiple. As many as a dozen 
have been observed on one limb. They affect the skin and 
subcutaneous tissue, but go no deeper, their further growth 
following a lateral direction b}^ continuity of tissue. A cure 
results in a pigmented scar bluish red or reddish brown which 
remains for several years. The treatment is the same as that 
for any infected surface, but difficult when the patient con- 
tinues working. Rest and antiseptic dressings, daily, result 
in a cure from two weeks to a month, depending on the 
amount of tissue destroyed. When the patient continues 
working the rule should be antiseptic dressings twice daily, 
and the application of an Impervious dressing of cotton and 
flexible collodion every morning. Prophylactic measures 
embrace the avoidance of being bitten by insects as far as 
possible and treatment to allay the irritation of the stings 
when they have occurred. When wading streams continu- 
ally the clothing about the lower limbs should be as light as 
possible and canvas leggings should not be worn. The devel- 
opment of swamp sores also depends on the condition of the 
patient's blood. They were much worse in anaemic individ- 
uals and consequently worse for everyone during the process 
of acclimation. They were very general among the officers; 
hardly a man escaped them. The native Colombians were 
not subject to them. 

(h) Boils. — Many men were temporarily incapacited from 
dutj^ from this cause. 


(c) Bilious fever. — This was the most frequent serious 
illness encountered! The symptoms were headache, dizzi- 
ness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomitin,^:, constipation, and a 
constant temperature of 104° F. 

(cl) Contrar}^ to expectations, very few cases of intermittent 
fever were developed among the officers. But two cases 
occurred in this party (No. 2), both of the tertian type and 
both yielding readily to the orthodox treatment of rest in 
bed and quinine sulphate administered twice daily. 

(e) Gusanos caused universal annoyance to all of the 
officers. They resembled boils very much, from which they 
were differentiated as follows: The gusano is caused bj the 
larv8B of some insect — probably the gadfly — hatching in the 
skin and forming a grub there. When squeezed the thin 
yellowish fluid always escapes from the apex of the tumor 
through a small aperture, which is constantly present. This 
is characteristic of the gusano. The grub is best expressed 
by squeezing, after the application of an impervious dressing. 

(/) There was one case of acute lobar pneumonia, which 
after running a typical course came down by lysis. The 
patient was a native Colombian. 

{g) Infectious diseases. — There was no yellow fever or 
smallpox in the vicinity of the various camps, and the Indians 
have no recollection of an epidemic of the former. At Car- 
reto the Indian village was half depopulated by variola about 
ten years ago, and fully 50 per cent of the present inhabitants 
of this town bear the characteristic pitting on their faces to 
the present time. 

The native Indians are subject to enteritis, dysentery, and 
measles, but none of the Americans or Colombians in party 
No, 2 were affected by these diseases. 


Whenever possible the chosen camp site was located on the 
banks of a clear running stream. The best sites were on a 
slight grade, as better drainage was secured and drier camps 
resulted. Latrines were made by digging pits and covering 
fresh excreta with loose sand or dirt. These were situated 
from 50 to 100 feet from the camp proper. All other refuse 
was disposed of in a similar manner. The pits were located, 
of course, at a lower elevation than either the camp or the 
water supplj^ 



The tent flies in conjunction with the rubber sheets sus- 
pended above each cot afforded ample protection from the 
heavy rains at night. Neither would have sufficed alone. 
The flies mildewed and became very leaky after two months' 
service in the brush w^oods. The water supply came from 
the small mountain streams and was invariably pure. Either 
boiling or filtering it were unnecessary precautions. To this 
purity of the water is ascribed the perfect freedom from en- 
teritis and d^^sentery enjoyed by the men. Not a case of 
either sickness occurred after leaving Cartagena in this camp. 


Of the articles of food included in the commissary it can 
be said that most of them were healthful, palatable, and cli- 
mate proof. There were a few exceptions, however, here 
noted. The allowance of corn meal per capita was too large; 
less than one-fourth of it was eaten. Canned tomatoes did 
not withstand the climate, and all were spoiled. The same 
was true of all the ham prepared in cottolene. The Imperial 
brand of cheese was the only variety that did not spoil. The 
men did not care for the salt mackerel, though it kept well; 
but bacon was eaten daily with relish to the end of the expe- 
dition. The men were generally affected hj a slight distaste 
for food after several months' work on the Isthmus. Dilute 
Avhisky, sherry wine, or claret seem almost a necessity in 
small quantities. Heavy drinkers do not last long in the 


For a six months' expedition : 

Pocket case of toilet articles. 
Three towels. 
One housewife. 
Straw hat. 
Felt hat. 

Two woolen overshirts. 
Two or three suits woolen under- 
Six pairs woolen hose. 
Two pairs duck hunting pants. 
Soap box. 
Fountain pen. 

Large pocket knife. 

One poncho. 

Two rubber blankets. 

One rubber bag. 

One pair heavy leather slippers. 

One air pillow. 

One pair rubber overshoes. 

One woolen blanket. 

Mosquito net. 

Canvas hat. 

Three pairs heavy hunting shoes. 


Two suits woolen pajamas. 


Few went to the Isthinus properly supplied with shoes. 
The best wading shoes did not last longer than two months, 
some but six weeks. Constant wading, cutting from rocks, 
and dampness resulting in mold were responsible for this. 

(6) surgeons' outfit. 

The surgeons accompanying a party to the isthmus should 
be allowed a a oice in the selection of the medicines and 
instruments. The following list comprises only articles that 
are indispensable: 

One field case, with a capacit}^ of three dozen bottles, and 
with ample room for the articles necessary, such as bandages, 
dressings, ointments, instruments, etc. The complete case 
should not exceed 30 pounds in weight. There should be an 
ample supplj^ of calomel tablets, gr. -^q, and gr. ^ solu. i]3ecac; 
quinine sulphate tablets; flexible collodion and camel's hair 
brushes; one pocket case of instruments; one hypodermic 
syringe and outfit; three fever thermometers. 

A sufficiently varied suppl}^ of medicines and surgical ap- 
pliances to meet the occurrence of diseases of the Tropics and 
possible accidents. 

As far as possible all medicines should be in tablet form 
and in well stopped bottles. All gelatin capsules spoil rapidly. 

The instruments need constant care and oiling to protect 
them from rust, which forms very rapidly. 

In the description of the diseases in this report encountered 
on the isthmus I have given the greatest prominence to those 
that gave us the greatest troubles without regard to the 
seriousness of the malady. 

No serious accidents occurred in party No. 2. No diseases 
more serious than malaria and bilious fever was developed 
among the officers of the expedition. There was an entire 
absence of diarrheal dj^senteries owing to the sanitary pre- 
cautions and splendid water supplj^ 

Native fruit in small quantities did not disagree with the 

12312—0:3 IS 



Afnera Island 100 

Aglaseniqna gaps .. . 249 

Agua Dtilce, village ... 163 

Alford. W. P 260 

Almirante Bay 25, 174 

Sailing directions 31 

Anachucuna Bay . 81 

Ancon, mountain . 191,215 

Animal resources . . 206, 266 

Anton, town . 163 

Anton-San Carlos trail 184 

Arena Bay 101 

Aspinwall, city. {See Colon.) 

Aspinwall, William 185 

Asylum of San Jose de Malambo 161 

Atlantic coast, description of 23 

Atrato River 82, 134, 211, 216, 230, 232, 239, 334 

Bar at the mouth of . 239 

Aztec 197 

Bahia Honda (deep bay) 98 

Bananas 208 

Baraco Island 88 

Barbacoas 190 

Barbacoas Bridge 153, 190 

Barry Rock 130, 132 

Bas Obispo, railroad station 188 

Bastimentos Harbor 67 

Bastimentos Island 67 

Batele Point 112 

Bayano River . _ . 14 

Bayoneta Island 138 

Bays and gulfs 23 

Belen River 5 

Bellenita, port 175 

Bello, port. (See Portobelo.) 

Bluefield Creek 40 

Bluefield Point 39 

Bluefield Rock .' 40 

Boca (La), port 146,156 

Boca Brava 88 

Boca Channel 113 

Boca Chica, channel .• 88,91,92,130,131 


274 INDEX. 


Boca Chica, village, supplies 91 

Boca del Drago, channel 24, 174 

Boca Grande, channel 181 , 182 

Boca del Toro, channel 27-28, 164, 174 

Boca San Pedro, channel 85 

Boca wharf . 113 

Bohio Soldado (see also Biihio Soldado) 188 

Boils 256, 268 

Bolano islets 88, 90 

Bolivar Asylum . . 161 

Bona Island 110 

Bognerones Point 67 

Brava Island 88, 91 

British consular reports for 1890; Colombia 164 

British diplomatic and consular report (1899) 164 

Bruja Point 98 

Bruja Rock 98 

Buenaventura, port . 175 

Buenavista Point 131 

Buey Bank 127 

Buey Point 114 

Bugaba, town . 164 

Buhio Soldado (see also Bohio Soldado) 152 

Bulletin, Bureau American Republics . 1 64, 204-208 

Buppan Bluff 47 

Buppan Peak 47 

Cables 195 

Calawawa River 48 

Caledonia Bay 134 

Caledonia depression 248 

Caledonia Harbor 77 

Callao, port 175 

Camps 255, 269 

Caiia River 46 

Canal 125, 184, 164, 174, 189 

Cost of Panama 174 

North entrance 189 

Route 124, 134 

San Bias route 124 

Candelaria Bay 84 

Candelaria River 49 

Cape Mala 109 

Cape Tiburon 81 

Capira Mountain . . . 183 

Capira River-Chorrera trail 183 

Carre Island 90 

Carreto Bay ... 256 

Carreto Gap 249 

Carreto, port 80 




Carreto River : . 257 

Carreto Shoals 81 

Carreto Valley 257 

Carti River 250 

Casaya Island 138 

Cascadas (Las) , railroad station 187 

Casma, port 175 

Castle Choco 50 

Catalina Hills 48 

Canro Point 24 

Cayo, port 175 

Cebaco Island . . - . 105 

Cedar Island 130 

Census 196 

Chagres, city and port 5, 6, 54 

Chagres River 14, 15, 53, 190, 250 

Reconnaissance - - 250 

Chalk 204 

Chame Bay 110 

Chame Island 111 

Chame — Not a trail 184 

Chame, plains of 184 

ChangTjinola River - 174 

Chapera Island 138 

Charitable institution in Colon and Panama 160 

Chepe River 11 

Chepillo Island 125 

Chepillo River • __. 125 

Chepo 180 

Chepo River 124 

Chepo road 180 

Chichime Channel 72 

Chile , steamship communication with 174 

Cliiman Range 221 

Chiman River 125 

Chiman village _ - 181 

Chimbote, port - 175 

Chimno Bay . 88. 89 

Chinche Bay 99 

Supplies 99 

Chinche Islet 99 

Chipigana, town 132-134 

Chirica Mola River 34 

Chirica Mola settlement 34 

Chiriqui Lagoon 33, 38 

Chiriqui Rocks . 42 

Choco castle 50 

Chorrera to Capira River, trail 183 

Chucunuqua River 13, 133, 13^ 

276 INDEX. 


Chuchegal Bay 90 

Ciiidad de David 86 

Clearing marks 138, 1 41 

Climate 15, 62, 107, 118, 221, 247, 252, 258, 266 

Darien 133, 201 

David, city 87 

Panama, city 62, 1 18 

Coaita Point 48 

Coal, mines and facilities 120, 203, 204 

Cocoa 207 

Code River 15 

Coclet Mountain 51 

Coclet River 51 

Coffee 207 

Coibo Island . _ _ _ 92, 100 

Colombia 6 

British, diplomatic and consular reports 20 

Bureau of American Republics 15, 22 

Colombia — Isthmus trails 189 

Colombian line 174 

Colon, city 60, 149, 188 

Light 58 

Limon or Navy Bay - 58 

Ports, breakwaters, etc 143 

Colon — Panama trails 189 

Columbus Island 26 

Commerce 144, 152, 165 

Commerce, Panama 121 

Commissary 270 

Communication _ - 164 

Communication, interior 214 

Compagnie Generale Transatlantique 174, 179 

Conception River 50 

Congress, Latin- American , . _ 7 

Confederation Granadina . 9 

Consuls, Panama 123 

Contreras Islands _ . . . . 93 

Copper 203 

Corazal, railroad station . _ 187 

Cordillera de Bando ... 11 

Cordillera de Chiriqui - . 12 

Cordillera de Veragua . . 50 

Cordilleras 219 

Cordilleras Lloranes . 219 

Corro Azul, port 175 

Cruces — Gorgona road 179 

Cruces — Panama road 179 

Crav7 Cay Channel 31 

Cue River 134 

INDEX. 277 


Culebra Island 112 

Culebra,town 155,187,189,190 

Curari poison . 241 

Currents, Gulf of Panama 109 

Damas Bay 100 

Supplies 101 

Danaide Rock 115 

Danta Canyon 264 

Darien Canal route 185 

DarienGulf 81,134 

Darien Harbor 131,132,133 

Darien, Isthmus of 5,6, 227-229 

Climate 133 

Productions 133 

David Bay 88, 89, 92 

David, city 86, 163 

David — Panama road 181 

David River 91 

Deer Islet 90 

Diet 270 

Directory of American Republics, Commercial 178, 192 

Directory of Panama 14, 15, 146, 149, 162, 209, 210, 217 

Diseases 235, 236 

Divala. town 163 

Divide, journey along 264 

Doguado and Napipi canal route 238 

Duarte Islets . - - . 66 

Duartis Point . 105 

Edith Island 132 

Educational statistics 217 

Ehle's report- . 248 

El Jueo. (<S'eeJueo.) 
ElPozo. (.S'eePozo.) 

Ellen Island 131.132 

Emperador (or Empire) , tow^n 155, 187 

Engineering magazine ( 1900) 19 

Escoces Point 79 

Escoces. port 6, 79 

Escondido. port 81 

Escribanos Bank 71 

Escribanos, harbor 70 

Escribanos Shoals 71 

Escudo de Veragua 45 

Esmeraldas, port 175 

Espinor Jose Domingo 7 

Eten. port 175 

Evaporation 234 

Exports 208 

Farallon sucio rocks _ _ 66 

278 INDEX. 


Fauna 21 , 266 

Fever 269 

Flamenco Island _ 112 

Flora 22, 262 

Foley Rocks 131 

Forests 282 

Frailes Islets 106 

Frenchman Creek 36 

Frijoles, town 153,188 

Water supply 1 53 

Fruit 208 

Fuel 205 

Galera Island 139 

Gamboa, town 155 

Game _ _ l . . 266 

Gami Island 88 

Garachine Bay 129 

Garrote Harbor 67 

Gaston River 260 

Gatum, village 152, 188, 190 

Geological features 206, 226, 237 

Gobernador Island 105 

Gold 203 

Gold River 50 

Golden Island 134 

Goleta (La) , village ■ 110 

Gorda Point _ . . . . 97 

Gorgona, town 154, 179, 188 

Gorgona-Cruces road . . 179 

Graham Point 132 

Grande Island, light 69 

Granger, H. H - 258 

Green Islet 64 

Grono Rock 89 

Guarida Point 98 

Guayaquil, port ' 175 

Guinea Point 112 

Gulfs and bays 23 

Hamburg- American Packet Company 174, 179 

Handbook of Colombia, Bureau of the American Republics 17, 143 

Harbors 221 

Harris, Captain . . 134 

Harrison Line 174 

Hay-Herran treaty - 9 

Health 234, 235 

Hermanos Rocks 114 

Herrera, Colonel 8 

Holandes Cays 74 

INDEX. 279 


Holandes Channel 72 

Hospitals, Panama 119,160 

Howard's report . 255 

Hiiarmey, port 175 

Hnasco, port 175 

Hydrographic Office, No. 84, 1902 148 

Ice 207 

Iguana Island 109 

Imports and exports 208 

Incas - 198 

Independence of Isthmus 7 

Indians 182, 198, 223, 224, 225, 230, 257, 259, 266 

Infectious diseases 18 

Inhabitants 196, 223, 229, 253 

Indians . ( »S'ee Indians . ) 

Instruction, public 216 

Interior of the Isthmus 215 

Iron 203 

Isla Grande light 69 

Isthmus-Colombia trails 189 

Italian line 174 

Jeannette Island 131 

Jicaron Island 103 

Jones Islet 132 

Jorey Island 131 

Juco Point . 89, 90, 91 

King Buppan's Peak , _ . 47 

Knocker Rock 115 

La Boca, La Goleta, La Palma, La Pantila, etc. {See Boca. 
Goleta, Palma, Pantila, etc.) 

Labor 255 

Ladrones, islets 92 

Lakes 13 

Landing places 215 

Languages 196 

Las Cascadas, railroad station 187 

Lavadera Shoal 67 

Lavandera Rock 91 

Leggings . _ . 256, 268 

Lime 204 

Lime Point 24 

Limones Bay '. 5 

Linartes, islands 90 

Lines of communication 164 

Lion Hill 188 

Little Toboga Island . . 176 

Lower Obispo, station 155. 188 

McGregor, General . 6 

280 INDEX. 

Machine shops: Page. 

Pacific Mail Steamship Company 112 

Panama 121 

Majaguay Island 126 

Mala Cape 109 

Mala, Pimta Mala pesthouse .... 160 

Malaria 245 

Mamei. railroad station 188 

Mandinga Pass 260 

Mangalee River . . 52 

Mangue Island 126 

Manta, port 175 

Manufactures 206, 207 

Manzanillo Bay 68 

Manzanillo Island. . _ . 58 

Manzanillo Point 68 

Mariato Point . . 105 

Mary Island 181 , 132 

Matachin, town 154, 188, 190 

Medical report. Darien expedition 242 

Medidor Island 97 

Melones Island 111 

Merry, Capt. W. L 177 

Milne Island 181 . 182 

Mineral resources . . _ . 208, 204 

Mineral waters 208 

Mines, coal 204 

Miraflores, railroad station 187 

Modern Panama _ 158 

Monitas Islets 89, 91 

Monkey Hill 189 

Mono River . . 74 

Monthly Bulletin, Bureau of American Republics 147, 179, 195 

Montijo Bay 104 

Montuosa Islets 92 

Supplies 92 

Morro Puercos 106 

Mulatas Archipelago 78 

Mules 206 

Nahia, port . 175 

Naos Island 112,191 

Nata, town 163 

Nata-Chame trail 184 

Napipi and Doguado Canal route 238 

Napipi River 237 

Navagandi River 74 

Negroes 185 

New Granada 6, 8, 9 

Nombre de Dios 5 

Nombre de Dios Harbor 69 

INDEX. 28] 


North American Navigation Company 170 

Nnevo. port 92, 94 

Nuevo, pueblo 96 

Obispo, lower and upper, towns 155, 188 

Oro Island 177 

Orology of the Isthmus of Darien 219 

Orphan asylum 161 

Otoque Island - . 110 

Outfit 270,271 

Pacasmayo, port 175 

Pacific coast 85 

Pacific Mail Steamship Company 177 

Pacific Steam Navigation Company 175 

Pacora road . . 180 

Pajaros Bay . . - 97 

Pajaros Island 126, 138 

Palenque anchorage 89, 91 

Paley Island 131,132 

Palma. village 133 

Palms 207 

Panama : 5.6,8,9 

Boundaries 11 

Mountain ranges 11 

Panama Canal 61, 62, 122 

Panama, city 117, 156, 179, 214 

Anchorage 115 

Light -- 116 

Modern Panama - 158 

Port 115. 144, 174 

Postal communications 120 

Railroad 122 

Steamer lines 120, 178, 179 

Supplies . 119 

Telegraphs 120 

Viejo (old Panama) 118, 179 

Water supply 18 

Panama-David road 181 

Panama-Portobelo trail 189 

Panama Railroad 120, 122. 185 

Bridges 215 

Concession for 135 

Cost of 185 

Description of route 186, 190, 198 

Directors of_.. ... 191 

La Boca Canal, dredging _ . 192 

Pier 186 

Plant 186 

Stations, list of 191 

Time table 193 

282 INDEX. 

Pftnama Railroad Coiiiiiany "s steamship lines 1 79 

Pantila Islet 133 

Paraiso, town and railroad station _ . : 156, 187 

Parida Channel 88 

Parida Island 87, 89 

Anchorage . 88 

Sailing directions 89 

Tides 91 

Parita Bay '. 110 

Passage Rock . 141 

Patena Point 129 

Payta, port 175 

Pearl Islands 136 

Pearls 203 

Pecuado, Doctor 198 

Pedro Gonzales Island . 139 

Pedro Miguel, railroad station 187 

Pelado Island , 125 

Peranchita River 134 

Perico Island . . 112 

Perry Bay . 140 

Perro Cays 71 

Pescador Point 70 

Pesthouse of Pnnta Mala 160 

Petillo Point 114 

Piedras and Perro cays . . 71 

Pierce Point 128 

Pilon de Miguel de la Borda Mountain 52 

Pinientel, port - 175 

Pinos Isle. . 74 

Pisco, port 175 

Plantain Cay 44 

Playa Grande Bay . . . 90 

Pasturage near the bay . 90 

Pneumonia 269 

Poisoned arrows 241 

Political table of Panama 210 

Popa island . . 33 

Population 196, 228, 229, 253 

Between David and Panama - 198 

Indians 182, 198, 223, 224, 225, 230, 257, 259, 266 

Talamancans . 200 

Port Carreto, Port Escoces, Port Escondido, Port Nuevo. etc. 
{See Carreto, port: Escoces, port; Escondido, port; Nuevo, 
port; etc.) 

Portobelo-Panama trail . 189 

Portobelo Point 66 

Portobelo, port 6, 23, 63, 179 

Position, defensive 187, 189, 215 

INDEX. 283 


Pozo anchorage _ - . 91 

Price Point - - 131 

Prince Point l'^-:^ 

Prodncts 201, 200 

Promenades 161 

Prosper Rock 9o 

Provision Island 27 

Public instruction 216 

Pueblo Nuevo 96 

Puerto Escoces, Puerto San Lorenzo, etc. {See Escoces, port; San 
Lorenzo, port, etc.) 

Punta Mala pesthouse 160 

Quibo Island. (aS'^g Coibo Island.) 

Races . 196 

Raft building . 265 

Railroads 185 

Intercontinental 195 

Panama Railroad. (aS^^^ Panama Railroad.) 

Projected 195 

Rainy season. Colon 62 

Rations 270 

Ray Island * 131, 132 

Remedios. town 199 


British Diplomatic and Consular 164, 207 

Commercial Relations, 1902 174 

Humphrey, C. B. , Captain, Twenty-second Infantry _ _ 143, 

144, 145, 147, 151, 162, 179, 189, 206 

Intercontinental Railway Commission 13, 163, 181, 185, 200 

Interoceanic Canal, 1901 174 

Resources 203 

Animals 203 

Fuel and timber 205 

Manufactures 206 

Mineral 203 

Products 206 

Reventazones Shoals 77 

Revenues 208 

Revesa Bay . 83 

Rey Island 138 

Rincon Point 51 

Rio de los Indios 15 

Rio Grande . 184,187 

Rivers 13. 231 

Roads and trails 179,180,181,184,189,263 

Robalo River : . _ 37 

Royal Mail Steam Packet Company 179 

Royal Mail Steamship Company . ... 174 

Sabana road . 179 

28tl: INDEX. 


Sabanilla Point 66 

Saboga anchorage .... 137^ 

Saboga Island 137 

Saino Island 91 

St. Christopher Bay 51 

St. Elmo Bay 139 

Salniedina Bank 65 

Salt 203 

Samanco, port 175 

San Bias: 

Canal route ' 1 24 

Channel 7 

Depression 250 

Distiict 164 

Gulf of 11.71 

Indians 258 

San Carlos, town 163 

San Carlos- Anton trail 184 

San Christoval Bay 69 

San Jose Bank 136 

San Jose Island 90,91,140 

San Lorenzo Point 127 

San Lorenzo, village 91 

Supplies 91 

San Miguel: 

Anchorage 139 

Bay 127 

Region 180 

San Pablo, town 153 

San Pedro Channel 88 

Sanitary conditions, Panama 119 

Sanitation 21, 269 

Santa Cruz Point 89 

Santa Maria River. ... 133, 184 

Santiago, town 163 

Sasardi, bay and harbor . _ 75 

Sasardi Gap 249 

Savannah Point 131,132 

Savannah River _. 132, 135 

Scientific American 202 

Scrubby Point 40 

Sailing directions 41 

Scruggs, W. L 21, 196-198 

Season, best for expedition 183 

Secas Islands 92 

Selaverry, port 175 

Selfridge, T. O. , United States Navy, report 219 

Sentinela Island 98 

Sevilla Islands 88 

INDEX. ii?50 


Sharp, Captain 184 

Shepherd Harbor 29 

Sickness - 267 

Snyder, N. T 174 

Soil 231 

South American Steamship Company 174 

South Forallon Ingles Island 126 

Stanford's Compendium of Geography, Central and South 

America , 14, 19, 22, 141^ 

Stanley Island 130, 131, 132 

Statesman's Yearbook 165, 208 

Statistics, educational 217 

Steamer lines, Panama 120, 178. 179 

Strain Island 130, 132 

Stigar cane - _ - 207 

Sulphur rocks . 115 

Supe, port . 175 

Supplies 254 

David 87 

Panama 119 

San Lorenzo 91 

Sasardi Bay •_ 76 

Swamp sores 267 

Swamps 190, 191 

Table, political, of Panama 210 

Taboga Rock 115 

Taboga Island 111 

Taboguilla Island . . Ill 

Talamancans . 200 

Talon Island 98 

Taltal, port _ . 175 

Tambo de Moro, port 175 

Tambor Island 68 

Tavernilla, town 158, 188 

Taxes 208 

Techura, port 175 

Telegraph 120, 195, 214 

Tents 270 

Terrin Point t . 70 

Tiburon Cape 81 


Chiriqui lagoon 89 

Gulf of Panama 109, 116 

Tiger breaker 43 

Tiger cays . ...i 43 

Tiger channel . - 37 

Tiger Head . 47 

Tiger Rock . . _ _ 48 

Timber and fuel 205 

286 INDEX. 


Tirbi Point . ' 20 

Tobacco 207 

Tobobo bank _ 44 

Tobobo bight 44 

Toro Point 57 

Trails 179, 180, 181 , 184, 189, 263 

Trade, export 208 

Transportation, mules 206 

Treaty of 1846 8 

Trevan islet . 181 

Trinidad River 126, 180 

Tnira River. {See Tnyra River.) 

Tumaco, port 175 

Tnmbes, port 175 

Turk Island 132 

Tuyra River 13, 14, 132, 133, 134, 184, 216, 2S4 

Ulcers 268 

Upper Obispo, town 155 

Urava Island 111 

Vagnila Rock 132 

Valiente Breaker . i 43 

Valiente Cays 42 

Valiente Channel 43 

Valiente Peak 42 

Valiente Peninsula . 44 

Valladolid Rock 111 

Valparaiso, steamship connection with 174 

Vampire bats 244 

Vegetables. . 206 

Ventana Island 91 

Veraguas 5, 197 

Virago Point- 131 

Virgin Point 129, 132 

Viuda Rock (or Widow Rock) 89 

Viveros Island : 138 

Volcanoes 12 

Washington Island 130 


Drinking 179, 269 

Mineral 203 

Water Cay 34 

Water transportation 174 

West Indies and Pacific Steamship Company 174 

Wharfage, Colon 62 

Wickes, G L 266 

Widow Rock. (5'ee Viuda Rock.) 

Winds 77,108 

Woods 205 

Zambu River . 15 

Zapatcro Point 49 

Zapatilla Cays 32 









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No. 4. 




April 1, 1905. 



War Department. 

Document No. 244. 

Office of the Chief of Staff. 


German Tactical Ideas: The Influence of the South African War. 

Translated from the Revue Militaire des Armees Etrangeres, for 

August, 1903, by First Lieut. Clarence O. Sherrill, U. S. Corps of 

Engineers 5 

Notes on the Artillery in the South African War. By P. Van 
Berchem, Major of Artillery. Translated from the Revue Militaire 
Suisse, for January and February, 1903, by Capt. William Lassiter, 
Artillery Corps, U. S. Army 21 

Experiences of the English in the South African War as Regards 
Clothing and Equipment. Translated from the Quarterly of the 
German Great General Staff {1903), by Capt. Jacob F. Kreps, 
Twenty-second U. S. Infantry 51 

The late South African War and its Lessons. By Gen. H. Bonnal 
(French army). Translated by Second Lieut. Charles M. Allen, 
Artillery Corps, U. S. Army 73 

The German Infantry Regulations, as Tested by the Experiences 
of the Boer War. By Lieutenant von Gentz, Second Lorraine 
Infantry. Translated from La France Militaire (June, 1904), by 
First Lieut. S. M. De Loffre, Assistant Surgeon, U. S. Army 119 

Tactical Deductions from the Boer War. By Lieut. Gen. A. von Bo- 
guslawski ( German army ) . Translated by Capt. Fredrik L. Knud- 
sen. Eighth U. S. Infantry 127 

Bibliography of the Boer War. 


Plates: No. 1. Battle of Colenso. 

No. 2. Action at Spionkop. 

No. 3. Action near Modder River. 

No. 4. Battle near Magersfontein. 



The following translations by officers of the Army in a measure reflect 
continental military thought with reference to the tactical deductions of 
the Boer war. Basing their opinions on the wars of Frederick and Napo- 
leon, and the European experiences of 1870-71 and of 1877-78, as modified 
by subsequent improvements in arms and ammunition, French and Ger- 
man tacticians are loath to ascribe any serious revolution in tactical prin- 
ciples to the experiences of the Boer war; but rather that abnormal terrain, 
faulty handling, and widely divergent training, temperament, and arma- 
ment of the opposing forces brought about unusual tactical maneuvers and 
formations which will not stand the test of future military operations con- 
ducted under normal conditions. 

Doubtless the present Russo-Japanese war will decide, once for all, many 
of these tactical controversies. Meanwhile, until authentic and complete 
accounts of the campaigns in Manchuria are available for the military stu- 
dent, it will be interesting and instructive to form some idea of European 
tactical theories as affected by the Boer war, with a view to seeing how far 
they may be borne out by the present operations in the Orient. As an 
Anglo-Saxon people, having many similar institutions and racial character- 
istics, the study of the mistakes of the British army, primarily a volunteer 
army like our own, should be of more than ordinary interest; while the 
military successes and short comings of the mobile, poorly disciplined Boer 
militiamen — a militia of expert riflemen — should for obvious reasons be of 
value in outlining our future military policy. 

The following translations are necessarily of limited extent. To the 
military student w^ho would pursue the tactical study of the Boer war still 
further, the German General Staff History of the Boer War (translated 
into English by Col. W. H. H. Waters, R. A., C. V. 0.), presents an 
accurate and highly professional narrative of the war, as viewed through 
German eyes; while the valuable French works of Langlois and Gilbert, 
and the German writings of Von Lindenau, and many others, entirely 
tactical in character, are available to students of these languages. 

The Great Boer War, by A. Conan Doyle, and the Times History of the War 
in South Africa, give interesting accounts of the operations by nonmilitary 
writers; while the Report of the Esher Comiaission on the Conduct of the War, 
gives opportunity for reviewing the opinions of British participants as to 
the causes of success and defeat. From 'the Boer standpoint, The Three 
Years^ War, by Gen. Christian De Wet, gives a good general idea of the 
fighting methods employed by the Boer commandos. 

The thanks of the General Staff are due to the foreign authors and pub- 
lishers of the following essays, more especially to Gen. A. von Boguslawski, 
of the German Army, and Gen. H. Bonnal, of the French Army, for 
courteous permission to publish translations of their valuable articles; and 
to the Librarian of Congress, for the complete list of the bibliography of 
the Anglo-Boer war, which follows the translations. 




Translated by Lieut. Clarence O. Sherrill, Corps of Engineers, for the Second Divi- 
sion, General Staff U. S. Army, from the Revue Militaire des Armees Etrangb^es for August, 

The events of the Transvaal have been frequently held out 
as a series of new and unexpected facts, demonstrating the 
folh^ of the present methods of lighting. It has been said 
that the frontal attack is impossible, even with greatly superior 
forces. Success was only expected with flanking movements, 
with a wide extension of the wings, threatening the flank, the 
rear, or, better still, the communications of the enemy. 

Strategical ofi'ensive, tactical defensive was the secret of 

The present methods used by European infantries met a 
sudden check and had to be entirely transformed. 

As to the cavalry, it had made a failure. It was able to 
play only a secondary role in reconnoissance, and had to give 
up fighting on horseback. 

It is proposed to show how the first two points, conception 
of the attack and the methods of infantry fighting, are viewed 
in Germany. The question of the use of cavalry will be the 
subject of a later study. 


In one of its last works ^' on the subject of the operations 
in the East of the First Army of the Loire, the German Gen- 
eral Staff expresses its opinion clearl}^ as to the "strategical 
demonstrations," transformed into a tactical defensive. 

"Ever}?- operation," it says, "was directed against a ligne 
(Tetajyes; that is to sa}^, against nothing, and the results ought 

« The Movements of Armies and Deductions Therefrom. (Berlin, 1902. ) 


to forcibly show that a simihir nianeuvor, so-called strategic, 
woald be useless as long as the enemies' armies remained 

"It is easily understood," we read further on, "that Bour- 
baki had thought of the plan which consisted in taking posi- 
tion at Villersexel. But a mission having an offensive char- 
acter could not be transformed into a tactical defensive.'' 

"Each improvement in armament," says Balk in his semi- 
official course in tactics, "has conduced to the superiority of the 
defensive; but the army which has thought that it could give 
up the offensive spirit has always paid dearl}^ for its error — 
the Austrian in 1859, the French in 1870, the Boers in 1900." 

It is therefore by main strength that the Germans hope to 
win victory, and all their efforts tend to increase the power 
of their means of attack. But the attack is decided always, 
at a given moment, by a frontal action. 

"In battle," writes Neckel, "even for divisions and army 
corps, there are only frontal attacks." 

"After the Boer war," writes Boguslawski, "every attack 
was declared to be impossible. But the failures of the 
English are due as often to their bad dispositions, to the failure 
of energetic direction in the attacks, to their theoretical 
methods in no wa}^ appropriate to the conditions * * *. 
We believe that most of the time the result of the English 
attacks would have been the same in front of arms firing' 
single shots, even when charging right up to the muzzles. 

"If a combination of a ffank attack with a front attack 
must be regarded as desirable," he adds, "it is wrong to 
'consider the front attack pure and simple, as impossible, and 
the war of the Boers in no way permits our opinion to be 

Boguslawski therefore does not see in the failures of the 
English a new and surprising fact. For a century now, every 
compact formation falling suddenly under the fire of sheltered 
rifiemen, at effective range, has been stricken with enormous 
losses. The decisive range alone has changed. 

From 80 to 100 paces a century ago, it became 500 to 600 
meters with the chassepot. It is now 800 to 1,000 meters. 
TKis is the only positive idea which the war of the Boers has 
caused to be, not discovered, but verified. 


Lieutenant-Colonel de Lindenau is more affirmative even 
than Boo-uslawski, when he analyzes the battles of Magers- 
fontein, Colenso, and Spionkop. 

''These three battles," says he, "were pure frontal attacks. 
No attempt was made to combine an attack on the flank with 
the front attack. The British generals have been bitterly 
reproached in every language. This was wrong. 

''The English generals decided on front attacks, because 
they were the only ones possible. To outflank the positions 
of the enemy was very difficult. The Boers mounted would 
prolong the threatened wing with their forces very weak 

" Under these circumstances, to throw hack this thin line Ijy 
a frontal attack was a very sane conception * '^' *. But 
the assailant made the mistake of exposing himself with simi- 
lar fronts. We never see the desire of acting against co par- 
ticular jyoint^ with units njell in hand^ attacking loith the vjliole 
strength^ with a sufficient depth to insure the hringing up of 
the attack to its m.axiinimi power progressively. He who wishes 
to attack, must decide to engage without reservation up to the 
very last man. It is only when the last reserve has been 
employed that the attack can be considered as having been 
checked. Now, at Magersfontein the English had only 65 per 
cent of their effective strength engaged; at Colenso, 57 per 
cent; at Spionkop, 47 per cent. The smallness of the losses 
is, besides, a proof of lack of energy in the attacks." 

So, according to Lindenau, not only could the frontal 
attacks succeed, but they were the only ones practicable. It 
is only the bad methods employed and, a grave accusation, the 
lack of energy, which has caused their failure. 

The greatness and the suddenness of the losses undergone 
by the English has frequently been pointed out as an explana- 
tion of the profound moral depression of the assailant, and it 
has been concluded that new efforts before an "inviolable 
front" were useless. The German writers in general see the 
question from the standpoint of another period. Boguslawski, 
comparing the losses sustained by the Germans in 1870, to 
those of the English in the Transvaal, concludes that the 
effectiveness of lire on the field of battle has not been increased 
in thirty years. 



But," replies Caemmerer, "one must consider the small 
number of rifles engaged in front of the English, and the 
nature of the Boers' fire. Their fire is individual and has not 
the properties of our collective fire. The Boer chooses his 
adversary, watches him, and only fires when he is almost sure 
of hitting him. The relative smallness of the losses sustained 
by the English can be thus explained, and also how the latter 
were able to approach so close." 

Perhaps their losses would have been greater in front of 
adversaries more numerous, and trained according to European 
methods. Perhaps these latter with less coolness might have 
opened lire farther away and have sent more bullets "into the 
air." In any case, we here enter the domain of hypothesis in 
face of which the facts present themselves with brutal force. 

Notwithstanding the progress of armament, the per cent of 
losses sustained in battle constantly diminishes through the 

"The more the range of arms is increased," says Balk, "the 
greater the distance which separates the combatants, and the 
smaller become the losses. It is not in spite of the precision 
of the arms, it is because of it that the losses are actuall}^ 

In support of his statement, he gives the following figures: 

Percentage of losses on the field {victors and vanquished). 

Per cent. 

Under Frederick 17 

Napoleonic period 15 

Crimean war 14 

War of 1866 8 

War of 1870: 

Before the fall of the Empire 9. 5 

After --. 3 

Losses of the English at Magersf ontein 7.4 

Losses of the English at Colenso 5. 8 

For the battalions, suffering most at Magersfontein, the losses were 35 and 

24 per cent. 
For the battalions suffering most at Colenso, 24, 16, and 13 per cent. 

To these latter figures Balk opposes the losses sustained 
by certain French and German battalions in 1870: 

The 18th of August: 

Battahon of tirailleurs of the Guard, 44 per cent. 
First Battalion of the Second Regiment, 55 per cent. 
Fusiliers of the Eighty-fifth, 52 per cent in twenty minutes. 


The 16th of August: 

One-half battalion of the Thirty-fifth, 9 officers and 150 men (out of 
400) in five minutes. 
The 6th of August: 

First French Tirailleurs, 53 per ceni: in fifteen minutes. 

From the point of view of the severity of losses as well as 
of their suddenness, the events of the Transvaal offer, as we 
see, nothing particularly new. 

The Black Watch and the Hig-hlanders at Magersfontein, 
the three leading battalions of the Fifth Brigade at Colenso, 
can not envy the foot soldiers of the Eighty-fifth and Thirty- 
fifth German regiments, nor the French tirailleurs of the 
First Regiment. 

Besides, the proportion of losses in 1870, before and after 
the fall of the Empire, shows eloquently enough the influence 
of the courage of the combatants. 

Are the present European troops better than those of 
England? Perhaps they are no braver. They may be, at all 
events, better instructed, and, thanks to better methods, can 
preserve their morale more intact. 

In judging the English troops severely, the Germans doubt- 
less recall their own army of 1866, composed largely of re- 
serves and inexperienced in all grades, since neither generals 
nor enlisted men had, as a rule, been under fire before. 

This army, thanks to a sound course of training and educa- 
tion in time of peace, showed from the very first engage- 
ments a bravery superior to that of the Austrians, who had 
often been fighting since 1815. This fact is worth 3^ of remem- 
bering. German writers are not therefore much impressed 
by the effects of modern armament, at least to the extent 
of believing a revolution necessary in methods of warfare. 
Good tactical instruction and the desire of conquering at all 
costs continues to be, in their eyes, the sure road to success. 
This success will be obtained b}^ main strength on the field of 
battle, and onl}^ by attacking. 


If there is unanimit}^ in Germany as to the absolute efl'ect- 
iveness of the frontal attack, discussion is, on the contrary, 
quite active as to the methods to be used. It is interesting, 
moreover, to find that all the arguments in vogue for the past 


three years are to be found in the studies written immediately 
after the war of 1870. As in the Transvaal, the assailant had 
employed at the beg-inning of that campaign defective methods 
of attack, and had suffered considerable losses. The problem 
which presented itself, as it presents itself anew to those who 
have lost sight of it or who have never considered it, is as 

How can the assailant establish himself at effective range 
with superior forces in face of the fire of the defense, secure 
superiorit}^ of fire over the latter, and approach closer and 
closer, so as to be able finall}^ to take the position with a rush? 

This effective rang e^ as has been said, has been increased from 
about 500 meters to 800 or 1,000. The ensemble of the prob- 
lem is not changed. The uneasiness in certain quarters has 
been very great. The English methods of attack w^ere similar 
to those used at Templehof , at Doberitz to some extent, and 
especially at the imperial maneuvers. This flurry was the re- 
sult of a sensational article in the New York Herald last sum- 
mer, repoi'ting criticisms (denied later, however) by the Eng- 
lish and American generals. 

"The Americans as well as the English," it read, " have been 
unanimous in declaring that the tactics of the German infantry 
would be impracticable in a real engagement. In modern 
war the German infantry would be useless. It would serve 
simply as a magnificent target for the fire of the enemy." 

Nevertheless some voices without much authority have 
been raised to demand a revision of the regulations. A great 
man}^ wished them kept intact; others, such as Scherff, desired 
more I'estricted regulations. The more moderate — probably 
the wiser — without being always of the same opinion as to 
the wisdom of some of the changes to be introduced, demanded 
a slight modification to insure harmony between the value of 
the instrument and its mode of employment. 

The high authorities seemed to range themselves along this 
line. A confidential order of May 6, 1902, called attention to 
the power of present armament, which can cause the first 
units engaged to extend their fronts; also to the extreme vul- 
nerability of every close formation on open ground. 

Without waiting for the publication, already announced, of 
a monograph hy the Great General Staff on the ''Fire deduc- 
tions from extra-European wars," the official point of view 


can be predicted. The range of ideas expressed for a year 
past in military literature permits the prediction. 

This discussion will be resumed by taking for a starting 
point the lecture delivered by Lieutenant-Colonel Lindenau, 
chief of section of the Great General Staff, at Berlin, March 
5, 1902-. 

The conclusions of this officer can be summed up as follows: 

The obscure situation created by armament with rapid-fire 
guns and smokeless powder compels the first deployment to be 
''sparing and methodical.'' The first units engaged may 
extend their front, but only in such a way as to permit of 
reserving troops to giv^e sufficient echelon in depth. 

The front of the company can be extended to 130 meters, 
that of the battalion to 400 meters; but the fronts of the large 
units can not be increased proportionally — 700 meters for the 
regiment, 1,500 meters for the brigade, are sufficient. 

The front to be reconnoitered by means of patrols (scouts) 
crawling forward, under command of officers furnished with 
good field glasses. 

Distribution of the skirmishers according to the terrain. 

The opening of fire at about 1,000 or 800 meters. Seeking 
superiority of fire at that distance by increasing the fighting 
line to the necessary density. 

The supports serve to maintain an intense fire from the 
firing line. No fixed rule as to reenforcements. 

Very short rushes (30 or 40 meters) by small groups widely 
deplo3^ed, sent forward at varying intervals. 

Arrange the regulations in accord with these principles, by 
having them prescribe the conditions of the advance by rushes 
and the conduct of the supports. 

And Lindenau finished by the Leitmotiv of all the German 
variations in tactics: 

" The offensive will maintain in the future its superiorit}^ 
and will still remain the best means of securing laurels.'' 

The ideas expressed by Lindenau were undoubtedly shared 
by the recognized authorities. However that may be, they 
took the lead in the innovations attempted during the course 
of the past year. To be convinced of this it is only necessary 
to read in the pamphlet ''The Attack of German Infantry'' 
of 1902, the "criticisms" of some maneuvers at Doberitz. 


Certain divisions at the imperial maneuvers are also seen 
maneuvering under the same forms as those which in the press 
have been called by the name of ''Boer tactics;" but the 
enthusiasm for individualit}^ at the beginning, for the advance 
of skirmishers and supports b}^ small groups deploj^ed, was 
not general. 

Yon Caemmerer protested at once against incorporating 
these expedients in the regulations. "The regulations are 
free enough to authorize them in case they are necessary," he 

"The group of 8 or 10 men," says Major Hurt, "is not 
sufficiently organized. The compan}^ or the platoon are alone 
sufficiently officered to be led forward. As to the supports, 
they can be kept in hand for the purpose of having them 
alwa3^s available. They must seek their safety in rapidity of 
movement — in utilizing up to the last the lines of communica- 
tion rather than in the employment of widely extended 

"At one time after the war of 1870," wrote Von Scherff, 
"it was thought that in extreme deployment was to be found 
the sovereign remedy for the great sacrifices which we had 
paid for our success. To-day, in view of the checks received 
by the English after much smaller losses, the tendency is to 
look for the safety of the attack in the most complete indi- 
viduality. The present propositions will doubtless be found 
as barren of results as were the experiments of 1872, and will 
disappear quite as quickly from the scene." 

" The best means of sheltering one's self," said Yon Stieler, 
"is not found in the terrain, nor in formations more or less 
complicated, but in the conduct of fire. The Boer tactics 
caused a loss of precious time with its fantasies. The troop 
is broken up into small fragments; these are still further 
divided; one is pushed forward, the other is held back; the 
voice of the chief is heard, these units are mixed up with 
each other, and the command is divided; the groups leave 
cover at a signal and throw themselves forward. 

"All that is very pretty, but it is not war. The terrain 
and the point of view from which these formations are con- 
sidered modif}^, however, all this question of vulnerability. 

"In war only those units well in hand will be able to ad- 


vance on the enemy. The way for them will be opened by 
the artillery." 

An anonymous article from ^ the Militar WocherMatt^ of 
October 18, 1902, is particularly interesting. After having 
loaded Lieutenant-Colonel Lindenau with praise, the writer 
takes serious exception to the conclusions of the lecturer. 
This article marks the variance of ideas. 

t4 * * * The order of May 6 to the army," says he, " has 
increased the authorized fronts of the company and battalion 
in the firing line. This extension of the fronts ought not to 
lead to entering the engagement with thia lines, the fire-effect 
of which would be insufiicient. The quintessence of infantry 
tactics is to give rapidly to the fire all the power possible at 
decisive ranges, or between the medium and short distances 
of 800 or 1,000 meters. 

''The modern method of attack," adds the author, "is 
worth nothing in a great many cases, notably in the extensive 
actions engaged in by large units. It may be used against a 
^position which the enemy defends passively, in cases where 
cover is entirel}^ wanting. Between Metz and Strassburg the 
German arm}^ spreads over 150 kilometers of almost fifteen 
different routes. On each of them, therefore, almost an army 
corps will march, which will not be able to choose its ground. 

"In the open plains, in front of an enemy firmly estab- 
lished, a decisive action will be avoided as much as possible, 
even with a superior artillery force, when the action will 
require the greatest sacrifices. This action could generally 
be undertaken by a neighboring force at less cost by taking- 
advantage of more favorable ground. 

.'"'It vnll he the endeavor to engage rapidly at these points 
vy'ith forces superior to those of the enemy ^ to form thick lines 
of sMrmishers^ who will seek to strike the enemy in a hand-to- 
hand fight, and advantage will he taken of the siiperiority of 
fire to throw forward masses. 

"This will be the best means, not to say the only one, of 
snatching victory. We defy the illusion that we can win 
without great losses." 

Like Lindenau, the author of the above article rises above 
details. He treats of organizations, of attacks, and fighting 
fronts. The question is worth}^ of a moment's attention. 


The practice of the maneuvers in which relative order reigns, 
and where numbers are not the same as in war, makes us 
familiar with extended fronts. The example of the English 
and the pretended powerlessness of frontal attacks tend to 
confirm these foolish practices. 

The Germans have not assuredly escaped the danger, but 
their writers are reacting. 

" The extraordinary extension of the English fighting fronts 
in the second part of the war," says Balk, "would not have 
been possible in Europe * ^ *. The bravery of the 
enem}^ is a great factor to be considered in extension of front. 
The depth must naturally be greater as the enemy is stronger. 

''In the fight, we read in the JaliThxidieT^ the t went}' and 
some thousand foot soldiers of an army corps crumble quickly; 
they suffer losses, and segregate themselves into parties cov- 
ered by accidents of the terrain. 

"In 1870 the mean front of an army corps was 2, 3, or 1 
kilometers; it has become 5 kilometers against armies not so 
good as those of the Republic. Existing armies do not permit 
an extension of as much as 8 or 10 kilometers, as is often done. 
Intervals can undoubtedl}' be greater than formerly. Never- 
theless masses are absolutely necessary, without which no at- 
tacks are successful." 

From all the quotations just read, one clear idea is observed: 
The Germans consider that to conquer, masses are necessarv. 

Suitably extended at points of the ground favorable for 
their action, masses alone will make powerful lines of fire, 
and will so strengthen these lines, notwithstanding losses suf- 
fered, as to secure superiority over the fire of the defense, 
push forward the attack, make a breach, and take ever}^ ad- 
vantage of any partial success obtained. 

Between these zones of powerfully organized attacks, thin- 
ner lines can be thrown forward across the exposed zones, 
unfavorable for the attack and equally unavailable for the 

The large units thus attack in line of masses^ at intervals 
more or less extended, according to the nature of the terrain, 
but such that the command can always make its action felt. 
This point being established, we will return to the discussion 
of the details of the attack. 


At the commencement of 1903, in a work full of good sense, 
Boguslawski represented in its entirety the study of the prac- 
tical lessons of the South African war and summed up in a 
precise manner the directing principles of the infantry fight. 
After having studied, like Lindenau, the principal battles of 
the Transvaal, he took particular care to avoid "premature 
generalizations." "" Every change," said he, " must be based 
on a profound examination of war and its factors, and not on 
the outside appearance of one fact of war." For him, "the 
South African war has shown once more the difficulty of the 
attack on open ground. But this attack is not impossible if 
the troops and their fire are used judiciously. 

"Experiments undertaken have only for their end the find- 
ing of the best detailed methods. They. in no way modify 
tactics as a whole." 

Here is how he considers these experiments: 

Thin lines of skirmishers, he says, are praised, even when 
giving a dispersion of a group of 10 or 12 men over a front 
of 100 meters. Such formations are impossible; they would 
not be able to advance; their fire would be powerless. 

It is pretended that the line could be progressivel}^ 
strengthened, that there would be time in the fight for it. 
This is all wrong. It is frequently necessary to obtain a 
quick decision. For example: The Saxons on the 18th of 
August, the second arni}^ at Sadowa. 

Besides, the successive reenforcement of the line causes a 
mixing of units and an entire loss of command. 

It becomes necessary to deploy at the beginning a suffi- 
ciently dense line of skirmishers (150 meters for a company, 
400 meters for a battalion, are the maximum limits). They 
will suffer more losses, perhaps, but they will at the same 
time inflict more on the enem}^ To make rushes at a run in 
actual war is impossible, where the knapsack is heavy and 
the men are fatigued. The strength of the groups, the length 
of the rushes, are things which it is impossible to fix before- 

As to replacing commands by gestures or signals, under 
pretext of not giving warning of the movement, it is absurd. 
A calm, strong voice will oftentimes have a verj^ great influence 
on the conduct of the men. 


As to the supports, it has not at all been demonstrated that 
in deploying them as skirmishers their losses are diminished. 
The fire of the enemy is directed uniformly on the entire 
firing line, in rear of it the ground is equally under fire. 

This deployment of supports behind the firing line is, be- 
sides, very dangerous; at the very first opportunity they will 
open fire on the backs of their comrades. They must be kept 
in columns of companies; it has never been proved that this 
is impracticable. 

For the assault, Boguslawski praises (the idea is not new) 
fire on the march, which, he says, gives as good results at 
short ranges as aimed fire at the longer ones. 

The above work has given rise to new controversies. The 
ink flows in streams from the pen of v. der Boeck, of Caem- 
merer, and of Scherff. The dispute runs on, but it has 
become very much localized. It has reduced itself almost to 
the eternal question: Must it or must it not be a normal 
formation? Is it right or not to destroy the initiative of the 
subordinates ? 

The opposing sides, while irreconcilable on this point, as we 
have seen, are almost in accord on the general principles of 
infantry fighting. All recognize: 

That decisive results in the fight can only be obtained by 
the fire of dense lines; 

That on open ground this decision must be obtained at 
1,000 or 800 meters; 

That supports are necessary in rear to stop the gaps and 
maintain the intensity of the fire; 

That the attack on open ground will always demand heavy 
losses, and decisive results will have to be sought as much as 
possible on more favorable terrain; but that this attack is not 
for that reason impracticable, and that it is imprudent to 
exaggerate its difiSculties. 

In what concerns the methods to be employed in the advance 
by rushes, as well as in regard to the formation of the 
supports, current ideas are very much at sea. 

The rushes must be short enough, one side holds, to pre- 
vent the enem}^ from opening an effective fire. The attackers 
rise by small groups at a given signal; they dash forward 30 
meters and fall down at the moment that the bullets begin to 
rain on them. 


But officers of experience reply that this method would 
cause the men to rise and run forward twenty or thirty times 
in the decisive zone of fire. They have no reason for thinking 
so. Those who have made war know that the greatest trouble 
comes in getting troops from the least cover, and prevailing 
on them to move forward. 

The question of throwing forward small isolated groups 
need no longer be considered. 

It is not without interest to read what one of the German 
authors wrote on this subject a short time after the war of 
1870, at a time when the recollections of the war were not 
deformed by time. The observation is of a psychological 
nature. The progress of armament leaves its value intact. 

"They wish to prescribe an advance by successive rushes, 
executed platoon by platoon. But have the real cir 3umstances 
presented by war been considered? 

" Can it be believed that platoons will rush forward in front 
of a line of riflemen who continue to fire on their flanks? 

*''Can it be believed that men will march with assurance 
when they see themselves alone, and hear the bullets of their 
comrades whistling in their ears?" 

What was thought impossible thirt}^ years ago would now 
be demanded of men less inured to war. 

On the subject of supports, the discussion extends from 
Boguslawski, who demands columns of companies, to the 
partisans of the new school, who have them deployed as 
skirmishers. The latter formation has been practiced at the 
Imperial Maneuvers, but it has retained its experimental char- 
acter; it was, perhaps, even an act of courtesy for the invited 

Listen again to the opinion of the author cited above: 

"The support has not only for its object, the supplying of 
material losses experienced by the skirmish line, but also of 
strengthening the weakened morale of the men; .... If 
it be supposed that isolated men reinforce the firing line 
throughout its extent, will it not be the men already engaged 
who will influence the morale of the new arrivals?" 

They believed in- the Transvaal, that they had discovered this 
truth, and saw in it a proof of the uselessness of supports. 

Id fact, to once more demonstrate that there is nothing new 
17432—05 2 


under the sun, let us quote the following lines written twenty 
3^ears ago by Prince Hohenlohe: 

"After the experiences of the campaigns of 1870 and 1871 
it was permissible to produce for a certain time on the field 
of maneuvers and to practically demonstrate new evolutions. 
Their authors were especially bus}^ in solving the following- 
problem: How is it possible to advance to the attack over a 
plain swept by the fire of the enemy? 

"We saw the strangest formations reappear. The entire 
field of maneuvers, with a length and breadth of three hundred 
paces, was covered with files of two men, and consequently it 
was impossible not to see that they were elevating to the 
dignity of a system the general scmve-qui-jjeut policy." 

Would this not apply to the formations tried a year ago at 
Templehof, at Doberitz, in the Imperial Maneuvers? 

In spite of the theorists who try to demonstrate that one can 
conquer without great sacrifices, the mass of the army share 
the opinion of Hohenlohe on these formations en poussiere. 

A German journalist, writing recently, says: "If there is 
really a Boer tactics it will not suit an army which attacks. 
Down with Boer tactics." 

This journalist might well have spoken the truth. 

If we waive the question of opportunity for a normal forma- 
tion, the extreme opinions are not so far apart, and entire 
agreement would undoubtedly be secured as to the method of 
advance of skirmishers and supports, as well as on other 
points, if the opposing sides were not kept bus}^ in the domain 
of infantry technique. 

But it is with difficulty that some have dared recall that 
artiller}^ must open the way for the infantry. On the other 
hand, we have seen Lindenau calculate minutely the time neces- 
sary for an ambushed line of infantry to open an effective fire, 
for a company deployed to rise, run 30 meters, and lie down. 

No writer shows the defender obliged, from what appears, 
to intrench to escape artillery fire, and for quite a time after 
each salvo to be in no condition to open an effective fire. 

At the moment that the assailant shall see the projectiles of 
his artillery cover with iron and fire the enemy's line, will not 
the skirmish line be able as formerly — even better than for- 
merly — to advance ^ 


It is to be hoped that the rush will be as long as possible, 
for the start, as has been proved, will be very difficult. 

Can its limits be set ? 

Does not its fixing* correspond only to the conditions of 
peace when the combatant retains his morale intact, is always 
ready to instantly open a fire, which theory declares imme- 
diately ''destructive? " 

Will the movement of supports be then more difficult than 
formerly, when protected by the fire of skirmishers and the 
artillery? Is their formation very important on the point of 
vulnerability, and should not one above all things think of 
keeping them in hand and of their mobility? 

Observations made during this unhappy Transvaal cam- 
paign are always opposed. But has anybody ever seen there 
any accord between the action of artillery and of infantry, 
the two arms of the attacker opposing their efi^orts to the 
single arm of the defender? 

It is said to be only a moment when the infantry advance 
forces artillery to increase its range. This moment will be 
later in arriving than formerly, thanks to the greater pre- 
cision of material. The distance of 500 meters fixed by 
artillery regulations, considered as excessive, can be easily 
reduced one-half. 

Will the defender, less inured to war than formerly, more 
shaken by the terrible power of present weapons, be able to 
prevent the attacker from crossing this last zone, the so-called 
zone of death, but the zone of death also for the pas.t 30 years 
and nevertheless crossed? 

It is not ingenious formations, clockwork mechanisms, like 
those which have been tried, that are necessar}^, but a more 
complete union of arms and, as always, the desire to win. 

In Germany these points of view have assuredly not escaped 
the higher authorities, who do not cease to encourage and 
facilitate by all means possible the working hand hi hand of 
the different arms. 

Official opinion, it seems, can be summed up as follows as 
to the employment of infantry in combat: 

The march forward is in file as long as possible; it is recou- 
noitered by officer's patrols who, furnished with good field- 
glasses, slip to points favorable for obse-rvation. 


When the patrols are stopped by something which they can 
not make out, some units are deployed ''carefully and spar- 
ingl}^" over a wide front. 

As soon as serious resistance is found, a powerful line of 
tire is established. Mixture of units is delayed as long as 
possible, by assigning to each one a small front — 150 meters 
for the compan}^, 400 meters for the battalion as a maximum. 

This firing line is established first at the edge of the last 
cover, up to which they may have come by defiladed roads. 
Behind the firing line troops will be formed to serve as 
reserves, sufficiently numerous to give the greatest power to 
the forward movement. 

In the more open zones, firing lines should be thinnei", with 
supports in smaller bodies. On exposed ground the decisive 
struggle will commence at 1,000 or 800 meters. At this dis- 
tance, with troops which are well trained in shooting, the 
attacker should begin to secure superiority of fire. 

If the attack is pushed with sufficient force and the desire 
of winning, success is only a question of time. 

Superiority of tire and the forward movement are only 
realized by a constant combination of infantrj^ and artillery 

This can not be done unless masses follow the firing line to 
till the gaps caused by the losses. 

There can be no victory unless one is resigned beforehand 
to great losses. 

In a word, the ''new tactics" is simpl}^ regarded in Germany 
as a new step for tvard in ajMtJi already old. 



By P. Van Berchem, Major of Artillery. 

Translated from Revue MiUtaire Suisse, January and February, 1903, for the Second Divi- 
sion, General Staff, U. S. Army, by Capt. William Lassiter, Artillery Corps. 

In its number for Jul}^, 1902, the Revue MiUtaire Suisse 
has given an analysis of an article of the Revue des Deux- 
Mondes^ entitled: Some Teachings of the South Africmi War. 
While stating that the conditions under which this war was 
carried on are of too special a nature to permit positive solu- 
tions to be deduced, this article seeks to show that much in- 
struction may be drawn from it; that the fire from rapid-fire 
guns using smokeless powder has forced the English to 
abandon their former methods, and that new tactics have been 
necessitated and improvised. This point of view has received, 
moreover, an immediate practical confirmation, inasmuch as 
we read, in the Chroniques of Germany, accounts of the new 
German infantry tactics inspired by that of the Boers. 

« Authorities consulted : 

1. Capt. G. Gilbert, Histoire de la Guerre, Sad Africaine, Berger-Levrault, 
Paris, 1902. 

2. Tlie Times History of the War in South Africa, Vol. II, Sampson Low, 
Marston & Co., London. 

3. Naval Brigades in the South African War, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 

4. Capt. Holmes Wilson in the United Service Magazine, 1901 : The War; 
The Future of Our Artillery; The Artillery in Natal, Colenso; The Artillery 
Duel; Essays on Artillery. 

5. Notes on Artillery Fire, by a regimental officer, in the L^nited Service 
Magazine, 1901. 

6. Betrachtungen iiber den Krieg in Sud Africa, Beiheft zum Militiir Wo- 
clienblatt, 1901, 8th Heft. 

7. Roesler, Material und Leistungen der Feldartillerie in Burenkrieg, 
Jahrbiicher fiir die deutsche Armee und Marine, April, 1900. 

8. Die Pompoms, Neue Militarische Blatter, January, 1901, Berlin. 



We seek, then, to draw from the South African war such 
teachings as it can give on the evolution of tactics consequent 
upon the improvement in firearms. 

These teachings affect especially the infantry, in view of the 
leading role played by the infantry rifle in this war But if 
the rather secondary role played by the artillery prevents us 
from drawing precise conclusions concerning that arm, the 
examination of certain facts concerning it, and some opinions 
which these facts have suggested, do not fail to claim a certain 

This examination is the object of the following pages. It 
does not, however, claim to be complete, for though the pul)- 
lications on the war are alreadv numerous, the principal docu- 
ments, such as the work prepared for the English general staff* 
by Lieutenant-Colonel Henderson, and the Boer documents, 
whose publication General Botha proposes, have not yet 

One must not, however, forget the very sensible difference 
existing between the rapid-fire artillery everywhere under test 
to-day, and the material employed in this war — a difference 
which will prevent us from making absolute forecasts con- 
cerning the future of artillerj^ 

We will first' take a rapid glance at the equipments of the 
two belligerents, and at their effective strength. 

Then we will note the respective forces of artiller}^ present 
in the principal battles. After having described the method 
of fighting generally employed b}^ the two adversaries, we 
will permit two actual witnesses to give their special observa- 
tions on the artillery: First, Captain Holmes Wilson, of the 
Royal Field Artillery, who took part in the fights on the 
Tugela; then, a German officer who fought on the side of the 
Boers in the Orange Free State. These two witnesses, while 
telling only of things seen, will not repeat one another too 
often. They did not belong to the same side, and they have 
figured on two portions of the theater of war whose terrains 
were not identical. 

Finally, we will quote from Captain Gilbert, who, in his 
posthumous work, Za Guerre Sud-Africaine^ seeks to draw 
the lessons of the campaign. This work deserves to be read 
and meditated upon, and the extracts or resumes which w^e 
shall give are intended merely to invite our comrades to study 


it. They will find there, among other things, a very inter- 
esting chapter of conclusions. 

The author, enlarging upon his subject, branches out into a 
discussion of the role in war of the new artillery, and takes 
for that purpose the method adopted by General Langlois, 
commandant of the Twentieth French Corps, in his book of 
1892: Field Artillery in Cooperation with the Other Arms. 
The principle, indeed, indicated by this title will be the one 
which he will strive to emphasize by the lessons of the 

This article will not extend, then, into a discussion of the 
points of view expressed. It will limit itself to being objec- 
tive, and to putting before its readers some facts and opinions 
furnishing matter for reflection. 


Let us take a glance at the material employed on the two 
sides. We find on the part of the English: 

1A\.^ field piece of 76.2 mm. (3 in.) of 1884, improved in 
1895 at the time of the introduction of smokeless powder. 
From the point of view of ballistics, we may consider it as 
closely analogous to the German piece of 88 mm., or the 
French piece of 80 mm., or even to our present Swiss piece. 
Only shrapnel were provided for use with it. These shrap- 
nel contained 200 balls, and had combination fuses adjustable 
up to 3,650 meters. The piece fired from 1 to 2 shots per 
minute, with an initial velocity of 471 meters. 

A recent arrangement of Colonel Clark has permitted the 
partial suppression of the recoil, and the transformation of 
the piece into one with accelerated fire capable of 5 shots per 

The piece of the horse hatteries of the same caliber, very 
light; furnished with shrapnel, also very light, interchange- 
able with those of the field piece; this interchangeability did 
did not exist for the charges. 

The mountain gun^ which fired a seven-pound shell, of little 

T\iQ field howitzer of 12 .7 cm. (5 in.), heavy for a field piece, 
provided with shrapnel and l3^ddite shell, with a maximum 
range of 4,900 yards. 


The siege pieces^ principally of 15. 2 cm. , but some of 12. 5 cm. 
and of 10 cm. 

The nctvy pieces, some fired from platforms, others from 
carriages improvised at the last moment for their transport. 
They were of calibers 15.2 cm., 12 cm., and 7.6 cm. 

Finally, some Maxim machine guns, distributed by sections 
of two pieces each to brigades of infantry and cavahy, and to 
battalions of mounted infantry. At first these were machine 
guns using small-arm ammunition. 

Later, when the English had seen the moral effect produced 
by the Boer pompoms of 37 mm. , the}^ too procured some of 
these machine guns of large caliber. The}^ reached the army 
just before the surrender of Paardeburg. 

The lyddite shell of the howitzer weighs 25 kg. (50 lbs.) 
and its explosive charge -1.5 kg. The cone of dispersion is 
180°, which, with accurate fire, permits reaching behind cover; 
but the effect is inconsiderable against shields, due to the 
smallness of the fragments. 

As for the number of guns in use by the English, this has 
varied with the different epochs, always increasing with the 
successive mobilizations caused b}^ the first checks in Natal 
and on the Modder. 

Here are the totals at different dates: 

For the regular armj^: 

October 7, 1899. Total on the line covering the mobiliza- 
tion, 66 guns. 

December 10, 1899. Reenforcements of three divisions and 
one mountain battery have arrived — 186 guns, of which 18 
are howitzers and 20 machine guns. 

January 1, 1900. A fifth division has arrived and a group 
of horse artillery — 222 guns, of which 18 are howitzers and 
29 machine guns. 

March 1, 1900. Reenforcements: Sixth and seventh divi- 
sions, and four groups of horse artillery, of which one is of 
howitzers — 338 guns, of which 36 are howitzers and 65 ma- 
chine guns. 

April 8, 1900. Reenforcements: Eighth division, 356 guns, 
of which 36 are howitzers and 81 machine guns. 

In taking account of volunteers and colonials, the totals be- 
come 407 guns, of which 36 are howitzers and 144 machine 


It is proper to add the siege train, debarked between the 
15th and 25th of December, and composed of 30 howitzers; 
then the detachments from the navy, whose total in guns is 
not given — the first three, at Ladysmith, on the Modder and 
the Tugela, comprised about 30 pieces. 

Let us recall that the total effective strength dispatched to 
xlfrica amounted, on the 10th of April, 1900, to 200,000 sol- 
diers and 4,000 sailors, and at the end of the campaign to 
448,000 men. 

On the side of the Boers artillery troops formed the only 
permanent nucleus, both in the Transvaal and the Orange Free 
State. The effective strength was about 800 men, with some 
reserves. Data concerning the materiel at their disposal has 
greatly varied. According to a report of the War Office of 
February 11 it was estimated at 220 or 230 guns, but there 
have been included in this estimate orders given and not filled, 
and, according to the Revue Militaire des Arniees Etrangeres 
(April, 1901), the materiel comprised only the following 
pieces : 


4 siege guns, 155 mm., Creuzot. 

6 field guns, 75 mm., Creuzot, 1895. 

8 field guns, 75 mm., Krupp, 1896. 

4 howitzers, 12 cm., Krupp. 

3. field guns, 75 mm. , Maxim-Nordenf elt. 

1 field gun, 75 mm., Skoda. 

8 machine guns, 37 mm., Maxim-Nordenfelt. 

13 machine guns using infantry ammunition. 
Orange Free State: 

14 field guns, 75 mm., Krupp, 1892. 

6 field guns, Armstrong, muzzle-loading. 

3 mountain guns, Armstrong. 

1 machine gun, 37 mm., Krupp. 

3 machine guns using infantry ammunition. 

If these figures are correct, we have, then, 8 pieces of large 
caliber, 38 field pieces, 3 mountain, 9 pompoms, and 16 ma- 
chine guns using infantry ammunition. 

The Krupp piece was analogous to the present German 
material, with accelerated fire. That of Creuzot approached 
the French rapid-fire gun without having its accurac}" and 
not possessing its shields. Both, without being entirel}^ up 
to date, were superior to the English pieces in range and 
rapidit}^ of fire. The Krupp material, while inferior to that 


of Creuzot from the point of view of ballistics, seems to have 
been preferred by the Boers on account of the supei-ior 
quality of its ammunition. The field pieces had both shell 
and shrapnel. The Maxim-Nordenfelt could throw 50 to 60 
shell, of from 1 to 2 pounds each, per minute, and carried 
shields. A part of the ammunition had fixed metallic cases. 
The Boers, like the English, used smokeless powder. 

The effective strength of the army at the beginning of the 
campaign has been estimated at 50,000 men; but in taking- 
account of all the men who left the commandos to return home 
the present effective never passed 36,000 to 38,000 men. 
This would be, then, the strength of an army corps, with a 
proportion of artiller}^ half that of an army corps of the 
great countries of Europe, and spread, moreover, over this 
vast theater of war. 


In referring to the historical works on the war for the com- 
plete description of the role played by the artillery in the 
principal fights, it is worth the trouble to go over the lists of 
each and note the number of guns which are found available 
on either side. If this is easy with respect to the English, 
the same information concerning their adversaries is not at 
all precise or reliable, nor do the reports always agree. 

The army of Joubert on entering Natal comprised 16 field 
pieces, besides some pieces of varied type, among which the 
celebrated Long Tom figured. Sir G. White opposed him 
with 6 field batteries, 1 mountain battery, and 1 colonial bat- 
tery from Natal, in all 48 pieces. Note the following details: 
At the first encounter of Glencoe, October 20, the Boers, after 
having surprised the English camp by a fire of artillery, 
abandoned Talana Hill before the English attack. They had 
only 4 guns and 2 Maxims against 18 English pieces. The 
next day, October 21, at Elandslaagte, we find 2 pieces pitted 
against the Natal battery at first, and then against 12 addi- 
tional field pieces. At the affair of Rietfontein, October 24, 
the only Boer piece which opened fire against the English col- 
umn in march withdrew afterward before 12 pieces. Impressed 
from the first encounter with the fact that the range of the 
Boer artillery surpassed that of the English artillery, Gen- 
eral White telegraphed at once for navy guns. 



The first detachment of these arrived at Ladysmith October 
30, just in time to take part in the ?jattle which preceded the 
investment of the place. On this day Joubert probably put • 
in action all the artillery he possessed ag-ainst the 7 English 
batteries. The latter energetically defended the retreat, sup- 
ported by the 3 navy guns, which debarked from the train to 
open fire. One of these was overturned by a projectile from 
Long Tom; but the others, thanks to the effect of their lyddite 
shells, a novelty for their adversaries, did not fail to gain the 
advantage. On the same day the mountain battery, as well 
as the detachment of Nicholson's Nek, fell into the hands of 
commandos unprovided with artillery. 

The army of Cronje, on the Modder, had 10 guns. Lord 
Methuen while attacking him had his army successively rein- 

In the fight of the advanced line at Belmont, November 23, 
the 2 Krupp pieces and the pompoms of Major Albrecht which, 
the evening before, had retired behind kopjes before an Eng- 
lish reconnoissance, did not take part in the struggle. On 
the part of the attack there were 2 batteries and 4 navy 
12-pounders. On the 25th, at Graspan, 6 Krupp pieces, 1 
Nordenfelt, and 1 Maxim supported the contest for 3 hours 
against the same 16 English pieces. 

On the 28th, at Modder River, Major Albrecht had disposed 
5 pieces in the center, 2 on the right wing, 2 on the left, wdth 
a Maxim, and had them all sheltered behind strong epaule- 
ments. He had, besides, a Hotchkiss, intended to be posted 
according to the course of the fight. Lord Methuen, rein- 
forced by a batter}^, had 22 pieces. 

When a little later he sought, on the 11th of December, to 
force the last point of support of Cronje at Magersfontein, 
he had 3 field batteries, 1 horse battery, 1 battery of howitzers, 
and 5 navy guns, of which one was of 15-cm. caliber. Li this 
battle, commenced at night by the attack of the Scotch brigade 
under General Wauchope, the Boer artiller}^ apart from the 
pompoms, did not make itself heard until 4 o'clock in the 
afternoon. At this moment the sudden opening of its fire 
determined the retreat of the Scotch, who had remained in 
place after their check of the morning. 

The Boer artiller}^ seems to have played an even slighter 
role in Orange than in Natal. We have proof that General 


Cronje had very little artillery; for after having left 1 piece 
at Magersfontein, at the time of his retreat on Paardeberg, he 
gave up, on his surrender, only 4 Krupp field pieces and 2 
pompoms. He had, then, no heavy calibers and scarcely 
could he use his 4 guns when he found himself exposed in his 
camp at Paardeberg to the fire of more than 50 pieces, among 
which were field howitzers and navy guns. 

Of their 4 heavy 15-cm. pieces, the Boers had 1 before 
Mafeking, 1 before Kimberly, and 2 before Ladysmith. If 
we add a few pieces before these two places, and a few others 
with the troops in the south of Orange, we arrive at about 
the total effective strength indicated above. 

In the second phase of the campaign in Natal, General 
Joubert distributed his artillery between the defense of the 
Tugela and the siege of Ladysmith. A map of the siege, in 
Naval Brigades in the South African War, indicates before 
this place 10 emplacements for siege pieces, besides 5 for 
field pieces. This figure must be a maximum which has 
scarcel}^ been reached at any one time. 

General White had received, as we have seen, some navy 
guns to reinforce his seven batteries. There were two 15-cm. 
pieces mounted on wooden platforms; four 12-pounders, of 
which three were mounted on Scott improvised carriages, the 
other being a landing gun; finally, 4 Maxims, of which three 
were on carriages and one on a tripod. It must be remarked, 
however, that this superiority was only relative, in view of 
the limited ammunition suppl}^ which forced the besieged to 
a great economy, especially toward the end of the investment. 
The two 15-cm., for example, had only 300 rounds each. 

In the combats on the Tugela we find at the beginning, at 
Colenso, December 15, 5 field batteries and 12 pieces of heavy 
caliber (2 of 15 cm. and the others 12-pounders) against 9 
Boer pieces (5 onl}^, according to Gilbert) and some pom-poms. 
Afterwards, at Venters Spruit and Spionkop at the end of 
January, at Yaal Krantz and Pieter's Hill in February, the 
English artillery was further increased. The Boers, to coun- 
terbalance their inferiority, detached, on occasion, pieces 
from the siege of Ladysmith. Thus at Vaal Krantz we see a 
Long Tom playing an important part. They also called 
Major Albrecht from the Modder to Natal with half of his 
artillery. This remarkable utilization of interior lines is 


established by a letter of Major Albrecht's/^ This assistance 
was only temporaiy. Thus the disproportion of forces went 
on increasing, and when the English forced the Tagela at the 
moment when the Boers commenced the retreat and the rais- 
ing of the siege of Ladj^smith — both occasioned by the sur- 
render of Cronje at Paardeberg — we see the attack on Hilong- 
wane Hill prepared by the fire of 64 pieces against only 3. 


In order the better to understand the manner in which the 
material was utilized, it is useful to bear in mind the nature 
of the organization to which it pertained. Here is the 
description of the method of action of the Boers, given by 
Captain Gilbert and condensed in a few words: 

''After having taken the initiative and the strategic offen- 
sive in their invasion of Natal, they limited themselves to a 
purely passive tactical defensive. 

''Their disposition for battle was always linear, without 
organization in depth — save sometimes an advance line — and 
without reserves. So, to reenforce a point or extend the line, 
they had no other resource than to withdraw men from the 
part of the line least menaced — a proceeding rendered pos- 
sible b}^ the mobilit}" of the troops, which were alwa3^s 
mounted. Their victories were always sterile, because they 
consented themselves with parr^dng without thrusting, be- 
cause they did not know how to pursue a beaten enemy. 
These tactics, which check the enemy but do not crush him, 
were almost imposed upon them by the lack of organization 
(they know only the commando), by the lack of discipline, b}^ 
the very slender effective strength, finally, with which the}^ 
opposed the English." 

A letter from a companion of Villebois-Mareuil in the Jour- 
nal des Debats attributes a great part of the offensive weak- 
ness of the Boers to the election of officers by their men, a 
principle which must have often paral3^zed the initiative of 
the chiefs: ''It is well enough as long as the electors and the 
elected are in a communion of ideas, but when the elected 
thinks to execute a plan which is not agreeable to those under 
its jurisdiction, it approaches the precipice of being cast aside 
and replaced by a member of the majority.'' 

« See Journal de Genen', February 11, 1900. 


The Boers, convinced by experience, renounced later this 
system, and decreed, September 1-i, 1900, a true military 
organization, in which the generals and commandants were 
named by the commander in chief, the held cornets b}^ the 
commandants, the corporals l\v the field cornets. But this 
organization was onh^ able to figure in the guerrilla warfare, 
with which we shall not occup}^ ourselves here. 

The German ofhcer, to whose testimony we shall recur later, 
characterizes thus the Boer method of fighting: "They had 
in general for a principle to seek to envelop the adversarv, or 
at least to avoid being themselves enveloped; that led them to 
a considerable extension, and consequently to a ver}^ weak 
occupation of their own lines. The envelopment of the adver- 
sary is advantageous, for this mode of fighting favors better 
than any other the effect of one's own fire by concentrating 
it, and nuetralizes at the same time the enemy's fire by forcing 
it to be scattered. Often they have committed the fault of not 
utilizing the results obtained and pushing forward while con- 
tinuing the fire; but it would be an error to impute their 
passivity to extended formations alone. Good commandos, 
led by energetic chiefs, have often proved the contrar3\'' 

We will understand, then, without diflSculty that with their 
small number of pieces, their lack of organization, and their 
very extended fronts, the Boers have employed their artiller}^ 
only by isolated pieces. These general conditions have pre- 
vented them from realizing the unity of action desirable 
between artillery and infantry. 

On the part of the English, without being a party to the 
same parceling of forces, we find that the superior unit of 
artillery does not exceed the group of three batteries attached 
to each division of eight battalions. There is lacking, then, 
a fixed organization of command for the direction of the fire 
of great masses. Captain Gilbert thus describes the English 
method: ''To start with, their plan of engagement is purely 
linear like that of the defense. No reconnoissances, no advance 
guard action; and in place of utilizing the passivity of the 
enemy for a turning attack or distributing their troops with 
a view to carrying some decisive point, they deploy prema- 
turely their forces before the whole front. It is scarcely in 
such a method of conducting battle that one will find teachings 
for artillery." 



One of the first facts which struck Captain Holmes Wilson, 
as well as the whole English army, from the time of the first 
encounters in Natal, was the superiority of the Boer artiller}^ 
material over the English material. If this superiority has 
not played a more important role it ma}^ be attributed to the 
small number of cases in which the Boers could act by con- 
centration of fire upon a single point for a definite time, to 
the defective quality of their ammunition, and finally to the 
too restricted number of their pieces. 

This superiority has first of all affirmed itself by a greater 
range. The English field artillery found itself exposed more 
than once without being able to reply, not only to the fire of 
pieces of heavy caliber, but even to that of simple fieldpieces. 
Examples do not lack. At Spionkop the deficiency of range 
prevented 40 English pieces from supporting by their fire a 
decimated infantry. Likewise at the demonstration of the 
Sttthof January before Breakfontein, immediately before the 
attack on Vaal Krantz, 6 field batteries suffered in the open 
the fire of an enemy out of reach. Two days later, when the 
Long Tom appeared at Dornkloof , the inconvenience of the 
deficiency of range becomes still more sensible; here it is the 
field howitzers of 12.7 cm. which are not able to reply. The 
Long Tom was posted on a high hill and completely under 
cover; it was especially necessary to resort to the curved tra- 
jectories of these pieces to have a chance of hitting him. 
Mounted on a disappearing carriage the duration of his ap- 
pearance when he fired was ver}^ short; the projectiles of the 
heavy navy pieces whose range was alone sufficient, owing to 
the great time of flight for the distance, alwaj^s arrived after 
his disappearance, and, with their angle of fall, struck the 
parapet or passed over without ever being able to reach behind 
the shelter. 

The case of the battle of Mooi River is still more character- 
istic on account of the moral effect produced. There, the 
Boers utilized the great range of their artiller^^ to surprise 
their adversary, as they had already done at Glencoe. After 
the investment of Ladysraith they had pushed a strong recon- 
noissance to the south of the Tugela; one of their detach- 
ments, with one or two pieces, surprised at Mooi River the 


camp of all arms of General Barton, and at 4,500 yards threw 
shells into his tents, somewhat as the Prussians did at Beau- 
mont in 1870. An English officer present at this affair, after 
having described the very uncomfortable effect which this 
surprise had upon those who suffered it, adds: "Then our 
battery dashed at a gallop out of camp, and we said to our- 
selves: 'Now the Boers are going to see that they have gotten 
themselves into a wasp nest,' and we waited impatiently for 
what was going to happen. The battery opened its fire; that 
of the enemy was turned against it. No great harm was done 
the battery; but what was our surprise to see our 6 pieces 
obliged to stop firing because they were outclassed in range. 
As the ground, all cut up in ravines, rose rapidly beyond, 
they could not advance. Can one be astonished that our 
beautiful confidence was somewhat shattered after having seen 
500 of the enemy bombard with impunity a camp of 3,000 
men at midday ? " 

Two objections may be made against the fire at long dis- 
tances. The first is this: The entirely exceptional transpar- 
ency of the air in South Africa which favored long-distance 
firing will not be found elsewhere. This is evident for 
England. However, there are other countries where the con- 
ditions of visibility will also be very favorable: Egypt, the 
East, Greece, where in the last campaign fire was delivered 
at 7,000 meters, while observing perfectly the shots. The 
second is more serious: The remaining velocity of the shrap- 
nel balls at great distances is insufficient to produce the 
necessar}^ effect. This objection is supported by facts observed 
in the war. Thus apropos of the 6 batteries which we 
have just seen exposed to the enemy's fire before Breakfon- 
tein, Capt. Holmes Wilson relates how, after having fired 2 
hours without reply, they were suddenly" subjected to a fire 
of artillery. 

''When they saw projectiles bursting over them without 
being able to reply, the troops were seized with dismay, ask- 
ing themselves if they were going to take part in a repetition 
of the Colenso disaster; but when the smoke had blown away, 
it was found that there were no casualties. Long range 
shrapnel fire of fieldpieces had just shown itself entirel}^ 

The superiority of the Boer material has further shown 


itself by its greater rapidity of fire. Our witness has seen 
at Breakfontein 3 Boer pieces hurl at 6 English ?jatteries 
more projectiles than 6 English pieces could have thrown 
with their most rapid fire. He adds, that the same day the 
slowness of the English fire permitted a Boer piece to be 
withdrawn and a pom pom to be advanced without being dis- 
turbed. These are brief opportunities; they often present 
themselves, and it is necessary to be able to take advantage 
of them. The author believes, then, for such cases, in the 
great superiority of a battery of 4 rapid-fire pieces over the 
English battery of 6 pieces. 

Let us pass now to the utilization of shelters and of natural 
cover. The Boers made such a skillful and constant use of 
this factor that we ma}^ attribute to it a role of the first order 
in the campaign. The long halt of the army of Sir R. Buller 
on the Tugela, is it not principally due to the art displayed 
by the adversary in remaining completely invisible ? 

The check to the attack of Lord Methuen at Magersfontein, 
is it not due to the same cause? On the other hand, is it not 
because they did not know how to employ this factor that the 
English were driven from Spionkop, and that they saw the 
war prolonged for so long a time? The author does not hesi- 
tate to find in this the secret which permitted an adversary, 
incapable of resisting a month in the open, to keep the field 
for years; and, especially, which permitted his artillery, so 
inferior in numbers, to keep from being annihilated. The 
disposition of his artillery by isolated pieces, so open to criti- 
€ism from many points of view, has had this advantage, to 
permit of their being concealed very much better. 

So one of the principal tasks of the English artillery has 
been to discover the emplacements of the enemy's guns. It 
was not rare to see the other arms come to its assistance for 
this purpose. If one wishes to determine the different places 
from which at variable intervals bluish flashes are going to 
appear — which one can not foretell in advance — it is necessary 
that a large portion of the terrain be constantly watched, and 
for that one pair of eyes is not sufficient; a very great num- 
ber are needed. 

Seeking cover, ever}^ where and always, has been the first 
principle of tactics of the Boers. Two circumstances have 

17432—05 3 


permitted its excellent application — lono--range guns and^ 
especially, absence of smoke. What are we to think of the 
value of this principle? If it is dangerous to be always hav- 
ing recourse to it, it is evident that wherever it can be applied 
it will prolong the duration of the struggle. Up to that time 
the English artillery, exercising and maneuvering alwa3^s in 
the open, had neglected it, but it was not forgotten else- 
where. Thus the German Regulations say: "It is always de- 
sirable to protect oneself against the enemy's fire by throw- 
ing up works as soon as there is time, even in an offensive 
action." And again: "Any kind of work is good if it serves^ 
to render more difficult the enemy's observation." 

So the author asks what would happen to the English artil- 
lery if it found itself opposed to a Prussian artillery having 
recourse to cover, unless it intends to do likewise. 

At Colenso all the Boer guns were sheltered and most of 
them invisible. At Spionkop not a single one could be 
distinguished. At Vaal Krantz, as we have seen, the only 
one which was perceived, the Long Tom, Avas so well protected 
that nothing could be done against it. At Pieter's Hill, all 
were under cover and invisible. Formerly it was thought 
that the first gage of success was to accomplish the regulation 
of lire first. ' This first gage to-day might well be the taking 
shelter. If artiller}^ in taking a position to the front, falls 
under the fire of invisible batteries, which of the two sides 
will have the upper hand? The answer does not appear to be 
in doubt. So the author concludes from this that a delay in 
opening fire, in order to gain the necessary time to prepare 
shelter, will be almost alwa3^s advantageous. 

Another question: What is the effect of artillery on shelters 
and on the troops behind shelters? On the Tugela, where 
the Boers constructed many works, the effect of fire of field 
pieces, like that of the heavy calibers, field howitzers, or 15 
cm. navy guns, was nil. One might readily foresee very 
slender results after experience on the practice ground; but 
this appears to have been a revelation for the English artillerj'', 
who, according to the author, had never previously practiced 
firing at targets under cover. 

How is it that this effect has been nearly nil in reality ? 
For the works, the damages were rapidly repaired at night; 
as for the men, under the fire of artillery, they remained 



hidden. As soon as the infantry of the attack approached 
and the bombardment slackened, they lined the trenches and 
decimated their adversary. To the question, ''What will 
artillery do if its lire is so ineffective against shelters?" the 
author answers, "The occasions for using shrapnel will be 
much more rare: we must turn to the study of another pro- 
jectile and have recourse to heavy calibers." 

We will see Captain Gilbert treating this question in a more 
general manner and giving to it another answer, which he 
considers one of the principal lessons of the war. So we shall 
take up this point at greater length at the end of this article. 

With regard to mobility, Capt. Holmes Wilson states that 
the navy guns and the field howitzers have shown themselves 
sufficiently endowed with this quality, even in a country 
devoid of roads. He sets forth the importance of this factor 
for heavy artillery which must follow the army. And is it 
not heavy artillery which, in a terrain like that of the Tugela, 
has been obliged to open the combat? However paradoxical 
it may appear, heavy artillery then must be able to open fire 
first and cover the advance of the other arms. With a field 
artillery provided only with shrapnel and not able to fire at 
great distances, the commander of an arm}^ will not be able 
to attempt the least yattack before the arrival of his heav}" 
artillery. In this regard he remarks that we will return to 
the idea, abandoned in 1870, of keeping some artillery in 
reserve. For what good will it do to push guns to the front 
at the beginning of an action, only to expose them to a fire to 
which they can not reply, as happened on the Tugela? If 
heavy pieces are mobile enough to open the fight, must not 
fi.eld artillery be reserved until its fire can be utilized in con- 
centrating it on the decisive point of attack. We will find 
again this return to the idea of reserve artillery in the con- 
clusions of Captain Gilbert, but in a much larger sense indeed. 
In any case the frequent employment of heav}^ pieces in 
Africa opens new horizons. 

Our observer takes up also the much discussed question of the 
artillery duel. The theorists, he says, have attributed to it a 
predominant and decisive role in the fight. It is on the favor- 
able issue of this duel that they make depend the possibility 
of passing to the attack or the counter attack of infantr3\ 
From it they expect the success of the day. Thej^ have for- 


gotton one very simple fact, however: Even if o/ie of the 
parties desires to engage in this duel, the adversar}^, if he 
does not wish to, will be able often, thanks to smokeless pow- 
der and long ranges, to refuse it. The artillery duel has 
never had decisive results in the South African war because 
it has never really taken place. " The Boer artillery was too 
much outnumbered to accept it, and, thanks to its skill in 
finding cover, favored by smokeless powder,, it often suc- 
ceeded in maintaining itself. Its pieces were rarely silenced. 
When any of them were discovered and came under fire, they 
were moved and reentered the fight behind some other emplace- 
ment prepared in advance. This was the game played at 
Colenso, Spionkop, Breakfontein, and Vaal Krantz."" 

In the battles of the future, if the artillery knows how to 
mask itself, it will not be seen. Upon what will that of the 
attack fire? It might, utilizing cover like the defense, seek 
to destroy the guns of the defense one by one as it perceived 
them. To avoid this successive destruction, the defense 
might find itself obliged to open fire all along the line and 
reveal its position. However, on the Tugela the bombard- 
ments of the reconnoitering force never provoked a reply; 
they fired at hazard because they saw nothing. It would be 
premature to say that the artillery duel is dead, but it will 
not survive in the form in which, until now, we have gen- 
erally pictured it. , 

If in this particular case we are able to declare a change in 
the tactics of artillery, on the other hand we may afiirm that 
nothing has transpired to invalidate the principle of concen- 
tration of fire. This principle, from which Napoleon drew 
remarl^ble results at Friedland by the aid of his massed bat- 
teries, has remained always fruitful since then. The Germans 
made constant use of it in 1870. If the experience in Africa 
has proved the justness of the principle, it has shown the 
impossibility which one may often have of applying it. It is 
advantageous whenever one has a target visible and of some 
importance. Targets of this character the English expected 
on arrival in Africa. But how concentrate one's fire when 
one sees nothing? It had not been foreseen that the invisi- 

«The difference of opinion on this point which we will see later on 
expressed by the German observer, seems assignable to the feeble resist- 
ance of the Boer artillery in the more open terrain of Orange. 


bility of the enemy would often render the application of this 
principle impossible for the artillery. This was the case at 
Colenso, at Spion Kop, and Vaal Krantz. However, if at 
Spion Kop the massed English artillery could not act, the 
Boer pieces, although scattered, knew enough to concentrate 
their fire upon the plateau so dearly disputed, and realized 
all that one could expect from this fruitful principle. 


The service of the piece by the Boers was skillful and rapid, 
the reconnoissance of the target easy, estimation of distance, 
as well as observation of fire, correct, but the courage to 
resist to the last man was lacking. In spite of discipline 
superior to that of the commandos, fire was stopped and they 
put themselves under cover when losses commenced. The 
actions began generally with an artillery duel. Due to the 
great numerical superiority of the English, it was terminated 
most often by the silence of the Boer artiller}^ The latter 
would not appear again, although that would often have been 
easy. The English artillery fire was then turned on the Boer 
riflemen in order to sustain the infantry attack. Cases 
occurred, however, of a small number of Boer pieces being- 
able to maintain their position, which shows the difficulty of 
extinguishing the fire of a hostile artillery even very inferior 
in numbers when it is well placed. The battle of Dewettsdorf 
gives us an example of this kind. Three Krupp pieces of 7.5 
cm. and a Maxim-Nordenfelt, placed at intervals of 50 to 
200 paces, protected behind rocks, sustained the struggle for 
half a day against 18 English guns at 2,600 to 3,000 meters, 
the latter in the open and plainly visible. Many of these 
were momentarily put out of action. The arrival of 12 
additional guns then quickly terminated the struggle. The 
Maxim-Nordenfelt alone remained still for a time under a 
formidable fire, thanks to its shield; but as it happened, on 
changing position to place itself more in the open, it was also 
obliged to abandon the game. A half only of those who had 
been at this piece were hit. The shield was covered with the 
marks of shrapnel balls. This resistance of a small number 
of pieces was facilitated by the defects of the English fire. 
The latter opened fire without knowing thoroughly where the 


target was and distributed it over a great surface. To a few 
shots well regulated succeeded a great number too short or 
much too long, and that even in cases when the Boer artillery 
was not well masked. This poor fire action nmst arise from 
one of the following causes: Absence of exact determination 
of the emplacement of the target, poor observation, poor 
action of the fuses, or defective service. Perhaps tield glasses 
of insufficient power ma}^ have counted for something. The 
importance of the quality of the latter has been especially 

How did the English shrapnel behave? A part of its balls 
remained in the envelope after the burst. The angle of dis- 
persion of the sheaf was so small that the width of the dan- 
gerous space did not exceed 4 to 5 meters. Under these con- 
ditions the number of hits on lines of skirmishers, not very 
dense, could not be very great. The dangerous space scarcely 
extended much more in depth; at 80 meters from the point of 
burst, wounds were rarely serious. 

''The Maxim-Nordenfelts made a remarkable showing; even 
beyond 3,000 meters some of them sustained the struggle 
against 3, 4, and even 6 held pieces. At the battle of Bosh- 
rand I myself fought with one of these pieces — well covered, 
it is true — during a whole day against 4 English pieces. Some 
of the latter were indeed reduced temporarily to silence, with- 
out our having suffered the least damage. Against cavalry 
they showed themselves superior to every other piece. At 
Thabaucheu two regiments of lancers were thrown in confusion 
in a ver}^ short time by 2 Maxim-Nordenfelts. The uninter- 
rupted series of points of burst on the ground permits readily 
following up a rapidly moving target; which can not be done 
by a field piece using shrapnel and a much less rapid fire. I 
have gained the impression that the Maxim-Nordenfelt is a 
formidable weapon." 

This opinion is, however, strongly controverted. I refer 
readers who may be interested to an article in the Militdrische 
Blatter. It recites some opinions favorable to this arm, and 
others, more numerous, of an unfavorable nature. 

Whatever may be the value of this arm, it has interested 
our observer from another point of view, that of its steel 
shields. This was the only piece which w^as furnished with 
them. He considers their advantage so great that he desires 


their introdaction in Germany. They afforded good protec- 
tion against shrapnel and musket balls, and permitted a better 
and more tranquil service. The shield has two inconveniences: 
It increases the weight by 50 to 60 kg. ; it renders the position 
more visible. The author does not hesitate to consider these 
disadvantages inferior to the advantages which it assures. 
Moreover, by choosing a suitable color for the shields their 
visibility will be greatl}^ diminished. 

The English had no shields. Capt. Holmes Wilson has not 
expressed an opinion concerning them. He limits himself to 
a questioning and rather doubtful attitude. He cites an Eng- 
lish captain who carried sacks with him and filled them with 
sand at the moment of taking a position, to afford a protection 
in front of his pieces. 

After these observations on the materiel, let us turn to those 
of our observer on its emplo3^ment. In estimating the effect 
of the English fire he has been struck with its great superior- 
ity when it was concentrated and not simply frontal. The 
advantage of obtaining cross fire is so great that one must 
neglect nothing to secure the benefits of it. It may be attained 
much better by disposing the artillery in groups well spaced, 
rather than massing it in a single place, from which it can only 
fire in one direction. We need not renounce the advantage 
of this disposition permitting concentration of fire, even if it 
is prejudicial to unity of direction. 

Here is an example: In the battle of Donkeshock an English 
brigade with some batteries deploj^ed on a plateau 4,000 
meters wide by 6,000 meters deep, about 3,000 to 3,500 meters 
from the Boers, who had placed 7 pieces on one front. Suc- 
cess seemed to be favoring the attack; but the aspect changed 
when 4 Boer pieces took a position on the flank. The lines 
of English skirmishers and their reserves began to weaver 
under the cross fire, and their forward movement was sus- 
pended. The artiller}^ was obliged to move to the rear, soon 
followed b}^ the infantry, which executed the movement while 
suffering sensible losses. A counter attack at this moment 
would have had great success. The fight took place at such 
ranges that the infantry rifle did not play a great part; the 
scene shifted as soon as the ar tiller}^ commenced to act in two 
groups with cross fire. If it is often possible to advance 
while protecting ourselves from one direction, it is rare that 


one can do so protected from two directions at the same time; 
this is why a cross fire is so efficacious. 

Against lines of skirmishers protected by works the English 
often employed the lyddite shells from their navy guns or 
field howitzers. These shells all had percussion fuses. To 
obtain a favorable effect it was necessar}^ to maintain an 
accurate fire and to. spend, besides, a large quantity of ammu- 
nition on a single point. We have already seen how little 
the English realized these conditions, which explains the 
small effect produced by this kind of fire. Moreover, even 
on bursting near by, these projectiles did not always do 
harm. The author saw men whose clothing was ignited by 
lyddite come out of the affair with light skin burns. He saw 
one single shell produce a frightful effect by bursting in the 
midst of a crowded group of horses and their drivers. 

The English guns did less harm to the Boer infantr}^ than 
to the artillery, because the cannoneers of the latter could 
take shelter less well individually. At the sight of each hos- 
tile gun fire the men stooped down, only to rise again for each 
lull. "It is certain that our losses would have been more 
considerable if we had seen less well the hostile gun fires, 
because we would have been less able to avoid them." This 
observation is interesting; it shows how the use of cover gives, 
besides the advantage of diminishing our own losses, that of 
increasing the loss of the adversary by preventing him from 
sheltering himself at each gun fire. 

We can not follow the author in his interesting observa- 
tions on the tactics of infantry; that would be going beyond 
the limits of this article. We shall limit ourselves to citing- 
certain remarks relating to common action of the two sister 

"It may happen to the infantry to be obliged to attack 
under a fire of infantr}^ and artiller}^, without being itself sup- 
ported by its own artillery, and of being able readily to carr}^ 
off the victor}^ But for that purpose it must fire and take 
cover from the beginning; this is the indispensable rule for 
both arms, especially the infantry, and before which the 
necessary time and space for its application become factors of 
an entirely secondary importance." 

"However efficacious shrapnel ma}^ be against objects in 


the open, all that it can do against objects under cover is to 
prevent them from showing themselves in order to fire, and 
thus facilitate the advance of the infantry. It ought to sus- 
tain the latter up to within a very short distance of the enemy, 
for the last approach of 100 meters may still suffice for a de- 
fender even very inferior in numbers, but remaining intact, 
to decimate the attack b}^ the fire of its rifles. To cover this 
last distance, the infantry will have to count only on itself. 

"This was not the English proceeding; in the infantry 
attack, the artiller}^ ceased its fire much too quickly. On the 
contrary, when the Boers pushed forward, their artillery sup- 
ported them by fire, even up to 150 meters of the enemy. The 
shrapnel burst over our heads without touching us. I believe 
that we would have preferred even to receive some wounds 
from that source rather than do without their support." 

"One learns readily enough to find shelter in the terrain 
from small-arm fire, but with much greater difficulty from 
shrapnel fire. I remain convinced that a frontal attack in the 
open is as impossible against artillery as it is against infantry. 
Even at great distances, an advance of a few hundred meters 
under shrapnel fire suffices to decimate an organization or 
force it to retire. Here is the method the Boer infantry fol- 
lowed when it advanced under artillery fire: As soon as a pro- 
jectile burst at a fair distance in front of a group, the latter 
ran immediately to the front to get out of the dangerous 

These are, finally, the conclusions of the author: 

"For the future battles of a European war, the South 
African war gives no definite lessons. The numbers on one 
side, the materiel and its utilization on the other were insuf- 
ficient. Since, in many cases, the English, with a triple or 
quadruple superiority, have had great difficulty in silencing 
the hostile artillery, we may deduce that in the case of two 
artilleries of nearly equal strength, one will have much diffi- 
culty in gaining a complete ascendancy over the other." 

The true lesson of the campaign for artiller}^ is the follow- 
ing: It must support the attack of the infantr}^ b}^ its fire, 
but it must not advance in the open under the enem3^'s fire. 



In his conclusions, Captain Gilbert begins by pointing out 
the danger of premature generalizations. In basing conclu- 
sions on certain facts of this war, we risk committing great 
errors. It is easy to produce examples of this. In a discus- 
sion in the French Senate on the abandonment of certain 
fortresses, the conclusion has been ventured, based on the 
resistance of Ladysmith, Mafeking, and Kimberly, of the 
failure of the most modern artillery against entrenched camps 
of a certain importance. Yet, against these three fortified 
places, of which two had perimeters of 20 kilometers, the 
attack utilized for heavy calibers only four pieces of 15 centi- 
meters. Can one properly condemn a materiel when the 
task imposed upon it is entirely disproportionate to its effect- 
ive strength? 

Another example, which we must reproduce textually: 
^ 'After the checks on the Tugela and the Modder there were 
writers who condemned absolutely all frontal attacks, pro- 
claiming as invincible the defensive sustained by skillful rifle- 
men, and concluding that, though leading to no decision, the 
defensive was in future the only tactics possible. 

"The English, in spite of their enormous numerical superi- 
ority, had seen their assaults pushed back. This was enough 
to pronounce a judgment without appeal; the inquir}^ was not 
even made if the assaults were delivered in accordance with 
proper methods. 

*'And as the English artillery in particular was ten times 
stronger than that of the federals, as it had done all the firing 
in the beginning, had continued to do so, and lavished tons 
of ammunition without obtaining appreciable results, peoplje 
were led to declare the futility of that great offensive agent, 
the gun and its shrapnel. They considered as henceforth 
inefficacious the preparation of the attack by guns, which 
amounts almost to denying all chances of success to the attack. 

"The truth is that the English artillery, well served, well 
horsed, excellently maneuvered, was employed according to 
the most detestable methods. Results were expected from it 
which it has never given, and hence its failure should not 
surprise us. 

"They caressed at first that chimera of reconnoissance by 


artillery fire, which was hatched across the Rhine, but of 
which our neighbors have promptly disabused themselves. 

'^In the plans of engagements of Sir R. Buller and Lord 
Methuen, we have alreadv pointed out the complete absence 
of advance-guard action. The hostile position was before 
them with all its mysteries. They searched it with their 
shells, hoping to get some maladroit repl}^ which would have 
disclosed the dispositions of the defender. The latter, better 
advised, remained quietly under cover, and the powder was 
burned in pure waste. 

" None the less they passed on to the bombardment of these 
undetermined positions. The artillery duel being suppressed, 
and for cause, they proceeded to the preparation of the final 
attack. But what was their idea of this preparation, and the 
relation of these two phases? For 24 hours at Vaal Krantz; 
for 36 hours at Magersfontein, they hurled against a line 
of kopjes the fire of 50 or 100 guns; they emptied their cais- 
sons. Then silence fell over the whole line; the artillerj^ 
ceased its fire, and infantry, cavalry, artillery threw them- 
selves forward ofi'ensively. There was complete disjunction 
between these two acts, the preparation and the assault; 
sometimes there was even quite a delay between the two. 

"During the storm of this pseudo-preparation the Boers 
kept themselves in their trenches; they did not have to raise 
their heads above their sand bags to watch over and fire upon 
a terrain on which the enemy had not arrived. The cannonade 
having ended, at the moment when the English columns, 
much too dense, appeared offensively, the defenders lined the 
parapets and fired on them as at target practice. Up to that 
time they had had but insignificant losses. 

"It is, as a matter of fact, an elementar}^ notion that field 
artillery acts onl}^ against unmasked objects. To oblige the 
defender to unmask himself, the infantry must threaten him 
from the outset. The artillery combines its rafales with the 
rushes of the infantry; it must, as General Langlois^ has 
fully shown, continue its fire over their heads up to within 
300 meters of the objective. That is the cooperation of the 
three arms; it is the fruitful law which alone enables the 

<^ L'Artillerie de Campagne en liason avec les autres armes, by Colonel 
Langlois, Librarie Baudoin, Paris, 1892. 


offensive gradually to lower the mask of the defender in order 
to strike him in the face. 

"This law was disregarded by the English, as it was by 
the Russians at Plevna. In both cases the isolated cannonade 
remained sterile. Must we deduce from this the inefficiency 
of artillery?" 

On reading these lines we can not avoid recurring to the 
description the author has given beforehand of the battle of 
Colenso. It deserves to be read. It is the most character- 
istic example of the methods of the beginning of the cam- 
paign. We learn how, in the attack without definite plan, 
each brigade of infantry, each group of artillery, marched in 
so many distinct columns, operating each on its own account, 
and what result is arrived at, with a disposition which does not 
assure the cooperation of the several arms. We learn how 
the artillery of Colonel Long, 2 batteries and 6 navy guns^ 
advanced alone in front of a brigade of infantry to within 600 
meters of the underbrush which bordered the Tugela and 
1,100 meters of Fort Wylie, which it had for its objective, 
and how, at this distance — much too close — it was reduced to 
silence; how, finally, by this isolated action and the subsequent 
lack of sufficient action on the part of the infantry, this battle 
terminated with the loss of the guns. 

But let us return to Captain Gilbert's chapter of conclusions. 
After having shown the violation by the English of the law 
stated by General Langois, the author shows how this law 
has been established in the work already cited and how its' 
role is destined to be still further enlarged with rapid-fire 
artillery. Without being able to follow this whole study, let 
us indicate the logical sequence of ideas. Making first a com- 
parative study of the materials which have succeeded one 
another since 1870,. the general finally advances the following 
propositions concerning the employment of rapid-fire field 

1. To open fire at a decisive range (3,000 meters). 

2. To fire with all rapidity. 

3. In order to avoid this overwhelming fire, to take advan- 
tage of cover. 

4. For the same reason, to decline priority in opening fire. 

5. To put in line the least number of guns which will surely 
produce the desired effect, both so as to display as little of our 


strength as possible and to secure afterwards for our artillery 
the most advantageous situation. 

This is the principle of economy of forces which the new 
French regulations applies in creating the term and the notion 
of hatter ies in position of ohservation {batteries en jjosition de 

This last rule implies a change from the principles of 1870. 
We no longer seek to push into action at the moment when 
the mass of batteries of the main body has joined the batteries 
of the advance guard; we wait until the enemy, unmasking 
superior forces, brings on the general artillery action. 

When, in the time of Napoleon, with an effective range of 
TOO to 800 meters, fire was opened at 500 meters, every battery 
engaged was a battery expended. Hence the necessity of 
batteries kept in reserve. With the artillery of 1866 and 
of 1870 and efi'ective ranges of 2,500 meters, results, at this 
distance beyond the range of small arms, still left the batteries 
at the general's disposal. The artillery remained available; 
we had the privilege of employing all of it from the beginning. 
With artillery provided with shrapnel and opening fire at 
3,000 meters, batteries which have the worst of it in a 
struggle in the open against hostile batteries will be immobil- 
ized by a small number of pieces and will not be able to limber 
up. Artillery with shrapnel ceases then to remain available, 
once engaged. General Langlois was alone in discerning this 
fact in 1892. Hence he has only to emphasize his views 
when dealing with rapid-fire artillery. Thus: 

In a fight between two batteries of the old bronze material, 
if one succeeded first in inclosing the other in a rectangle of 
100 by 250 meters deep, 10 or 15 minutes of distributed and 
sustained fire sufificed to put out of action half of the unpro- 
tected personnel. But with the rapid-fire gun all the per- 
sonnel of the gun detachment can find shelter behind the 
shields and may suspend the action. As the adversarj^ can 
not fire indefinitely, the side which had been worsted ma}^ 
profit by a lull to reopen its fire. The initial struggle from 
cover to cover leads then, at most, to the silencing momen- 
tarily of one of the two adversaries. The artillery duel will 
no longer afford a definite solution, as it did between batteries 
using shrapnel without shields. It leads to a dela3'ing action. 


But if the infantry takes a hand, a new factor presents 
itself — the artillery will be obliged to advance to the military 
crest. Unmasked, the batteries will be then completely 
immobilized or destroyed. So, skill will consist in forcing 
the adversary to unmask himself, while remaining sheltered 
yourself. To obtain this result it will be necessary to push 
your infantry to the front. It is by the combined and inti- 
mately associated working of the two arms that one is absolved 
from useless and resultless cannonades. 

This is the principle of the cooperation of the three arms, 
unheeded by the English. The artillery must by its fire force 
the adversary to shelter himself, in order to facilitate the 
attack of its own infantry. The defense will be menaced only 
at the moment when it unmasks itself to fire. This moment 
is short and the rapid-fire gun will take advantage of it better 
than the old material. 

Returning, then, to the examination of the events of the 
Transvaal, the author notes the absence of shrapnel efi'ect 
against troops under shelter and likewise its complete insufli- 
ciency against the shelter itself. He recalls how General 
Langlois insisted on this very important point, the conse- 
quence of which appeared to him to be that strong localities 
with lines of trenches would afford a very good point of sup- 
port susceptible of a long resistance. The General concluded: 

"Field artillery ought not to attempt the destruction of 
these points of support, walls, ' localities, shelter trenches, 
field works; it ought to aim at the defenders." 

But how? Describing the occupation of a position put in 
a state of defense, where the troops remained hidden in the 
trenches, the supports and reserves well sheltered in rear, the 
general showed that the fire could have no effect. 

"Any energetic fire at this time would be wrong." And 
he gave as an example the attacks attempted in 1870 against 
the line of investment of Paris: 

"The preparation b}^ the artillery consisted in raining pro- 
jectiles on the points of support of the line, generally villages, 
for a considerable time before advancing the columns of in- 
fantry: the fire ceased when the attack moved forward. This 
mode of preparation always had for a result bringing the 
infantry against an unweakened defense, leading it to a repulse 
or a success too dearly paid for." 


Captain Gilbert adds: 

''Does it not seem in reading these lines that they were 
written for Generals Buller and Methuen? Is it not the 
history of their long and sterile cannonades, commenced the 
evening before or two evenings before the action, lasting 24 
or 48 hours, then followed by a delay of several hours? Is 
it not the history of Magersfontein, of Venters-Spruit, of 
Vaal-Krantz ? The English would certainly have been greatly 
benefited by studying the solution proposed b}^ General Lang- 
lois — that is to sa}^ the intervention of the assaulting infantry, 
the cooperation of the two arms in the attack." 

As soon as the assailant arrives at 1,200 or 1,500 meters the 
defense will be obliged to line the parapets, and in order to 
fire it must unmask itself and become vulnerable. It can all 
then be summed up in this axiom: 

"The preparation by the artillery must take place during 
the actual advance of the infantry under the fire of the enem^^'s 
rifles; it must be violent. The action of the infantry must 
follow immediately that of the artillery." 

Is this not precisely the principal conclusion from the cam- 
paign which we have seen offered by the German officer who 
took part in it. Without having developed the subject so 
extensively, he pushes the application of this axiom to the 
limit, since he is of the opinion that the artillery must sustain 
its infantry up to 100 meters from the enemy, even at the risk 
of inflicting some losses upon it, so important is the support. 

Thus the shrapnel, very effective against unprotected tar- 
gets, has shown itself harmless against shelter. 

To remedy these imperfections explosive shell were intro- 
duced, which were expected to successfully replace shrapnel 
in this last case. It was believed that nothing could resist 
them. But the expectations of their effect have not been ful- 
filled, either against obstacles or against troops under cover. 
General Langlois wrote: "To dream of the destruction of the 
border of Froschwiller or of Saint-Privat was pure folly; all 
the munitions of an army corps transformed into elongated 
shells would not have sufficed to demolish one of these villages." 

The example of Modder River, bombarded an entire day 
by Lord Methuen's shells and all of whose houses were still 
standing in the evening, confirms this assertion. Though 
inhabited places preserve their value even before torpedo 


shell, the true objective of artillery continues to be not the 
cover but the defender placed behind this cover. But there, 
again, we meet with the same disappointment. The frag- 
ments of the projectiles are so small that the}' lose their force 
at 10 or 15 meters from the explosion. And this was an 
especial defect with these projectiles. The only superiority 
that can be given them is their very great effect when they 
burst in an inclosed space. The facts of the war confirm 
these statements. At first the high explosives terrified the 
Republicans; but as soon as the first astonishment was passed, 
they became accustomed to them because they saw that lyd- 
dite did not produce great destruction. Here is a striking- 
case. A Boer, between whose legs a lyddite shell burst, was 
thrown into the air and fell on a sack of flour, without suf- 
fering the least injury. On the other hand, here are two 
cases of considerable effect in a closed place. A melinite 
shell, bursting in an officer's mess at Ladysmith, did great 
havoc; and likewise a lyddite shell, bursting in a room at 
Modder River, killed the seven burghers who were there. 

If General Langlois attributed to high explosives a very 
secondary value, quite different was his appreciation of smoke- 
less powder. It modifies considerably if not the battle, at 
least its first engagements, since it increases the difficulty of 
reconnoissances and leads armies to become engaged under 
unknown conditions. Each arm, taken by itself, is powerless 
to solve the enigma. Reconnoissance by the artillery has 
given its negative proofs at Colenso, Modder River, and 
Magersfontein, and in almost all the battles of Natal and 
Orange. A few rifle shots will suffice to stop cavalry, which 
was likewise the experience in Africa. As for the infantry, 
a few isolated men will accomplish nothing; and as soon as a 
fairly important force is employed we will see them put to 
the alternative, either of going to a certain death, or recoiling 
under a murderous fire, or awaiting the support of artillery. 
It is, then, the cooperation of the three arms which is necessi- 
tated, and quite naturally it will be the advance guard con- 
sisting of all three arms which will be the true instrument of 

As to this gaining of contact being rendered more difficult 
for the assailant by reason of smokeless powder, General 


Langlois draws two conceptions: the game of advanced Une-s 
or screens of artillery on the tactical checkerboard and the 
game of covering detachments on the strategic checl^erboard. 
To covering detachments, the offensive will oppose advance 
guards of exploration; to advanced lines, advance guards 
reenforced by the mass of artiller3^ Advance guards of 
exploration and reenforced advance guards are only modes of 
application of the same principle — that of action from deep 
formations {en profonde^ir). Before this principle the old 
idea of the line of defense is obliterated. 

We can not follow the entire development of this new idea 
as it oversteps the limit of our subject. Let it suffice to say 
that the author, examining in its light the events of the Trans- 
vaal, notes that wx find on the part of the Boers a certain 
notion of gaining several points of contact, and of the em- 
ployment of covering detachments or advanced lines — for 
example, in the battles which Cronje fought before his posi- 
tion of Magersfontein. On the other hand, the English, with 
their premature deployment of all their forces on the whole 
front, ignored completely this principle of action from deep 
formations. Enlightened upon the difficulties of gaining sev- 
eral points of contact, they sought to avoid the difficulty by 
covering their approach under the darkness of night. This 
is an expedient which may be suitable for the storming of a 
post; we know what resulted from it at Stormberg and 

Captain Gilbert's book stops here. Some lines, added after 
his notes, give his conclusions: "For the war of the future 
the lesson to learn from the present war is this: 

" The difficulties of reconnoissances and of gaining contact, 
resulting from the considerable progress realized in arma- 
ment, show the necessity of advance guards and of covering- 
detachments, and justify the employment of advanced lines 
of artiller3\ The struggle on the field of battle must be car- 
ried on from deep formations if one wishes to derive benelits 
from reserves. 

''The same motives lead equally to increasing the front of 

the defensive deployment. The defensive front of an army 

corps may, at need, have an extent of 8 to 9 km. to the great 

advantage of the principle of economy of fire and to facilitate 

17432—05 4 


the use of the reserves. The latter may then kct either en 
profondeui\ or at the chosen pohit of the front, or even pref- 
erably in the form of groups detached on one wing or on 
both wings. 

"An army of four corps occupying thus 20 km. would have 
two of its corps at the center for the frontal light, those of 
the wings reserved for maneuver. 

"Finall}^ I have reserved intentionally the lesson which I 
regard as essential" . . . ^' 

As we have seen. Captain Gilbert shows himself a great 
partisan of the ideas of General Langlois. We have no inten- 
tion of discussing them, since this article is purely objective. 
We have referred to them along with the observations of 
Captain Gilbert, because in his work the observations con- 
stantly proceeded from these same ideas. It is interesting to 
note the part they have played in the elaboration of the new 
regulations of the French rapid-fire field artiller3^ 

Thus the notion of hatteries in position of ohservation flows- 
from the principle of economy of forces; but if this point of 
view has prevailed, everyone does not appear to be in accord 
as to its application. Let us point out, for example, the 
reserve with which Maj. G. Rouquerol speaks of it in his 
recent work, Emjploi de V Artlllei'ie de Cairqxigne a Tir 
Rapide. "It would be fatal," sa3\s he, "if we make of it a 
general rule." Likewise a rigorous application of the princi- 
ple of action eii profondeur to advanced lines of artillery does 
not meet w^ith the unanimous acquiescence of tacticians. 

Finally, if the employment of modern arms seems to per- 
mit giving a greater extension than in the past to a defensive 
front, ideas vary much as to the degree of the extension per- 
mitted. Thus in Germany they are contented in general to 
admit the more modest figure of 5 km. for the defensive front 
of an army corps. 

« What is the essential lesson of which Gilbert wished to speak? Death 
has prevented him from revealing his thought, and it does not pertain to 
anyone to try to substitute themselves for him. All his friends — that is 
to say, those who had the honor of approaching "the greatest thinker 
of the French army" — will know how to conclude. (General Bonnal's 
eulogy of Captain Gilbert. ) 


By Capt. Von Haeftenn, Great General Staff. 

Translated from the Quarterly of the German Great General Staff for 1903, for the 
Second Division, General Staff, U. S. Army, by Capt. Jacob F. Kreps, Twenty-second 
U. S. Infantry. 

Had the English officer in the South African war shown 
himself as thoroughly an educated, experienced tactician as 
he proved himself a conspicuously practical individual, the 
English people would have been preserved from many dis- 
agreeable disillusions. Whatever in the war, in the province 
of organization, administration, and especially of practical 
military clothing and equipment of the troops has been accom- 
plished, under the pressure of necessity and the influence of 
the late experience in the field, deserves in a high degree our 
attention. In this respect more can be learned from the Eng- 
lish than directly in the province of tactics. Outside of their 
thoroughl}^ practical sense, the experience of the numberless 
small colonial wars, as well as their not insignificant knowledge 
acquired in the domain of sport, and of a practical sanitary 
regimen, rendered material aid to the English in solving the 
questions under consideration. And that the average English- 
man is practical no one will justly deny. 

In the selection of suitable military clothing and equipment 
of the army employed in South Africa, has this practical 
sense been especially evidenced. According to the general 
experiences of this war a suitable and proper war uniform 
must fulfill two conditions, viz: 

1. A war uniform must, as regards its color, conform to 
the landscape of the seat of war, so that its wearer may be as 
unobservable as possible, as in the absense of rifle smoke on 
the firing line lies the most important means of protecting 
the troops from unnecessary losses. It here behooves us to 



follow the example of nature, which furnishes many animals 
as a means of protection, the color of the country of which 
they are natives. 

2. A war uniform must, as regards the selection of cloth 
and fit, fulfill the highest demands of comfort and hygiene, 
in order not to unnecessarily increase the physical and mental 
exertions of the soldier, which in war, and especially in 
modern combat, are already great enough. 

The experiences of the Boer war of 1881 had already 
demonstrated that uniforms of red or blue were unpractical 
in the clear atmosphere of South Africa, and in the open and 
treeless character of the terrain, as they made their wearers 
visible at a great distance and brought upon the English, 
opposed as they were to a foe who, like the Boer, understood 
how to make his weapon efficient, even at great ranges, 
unnecessary losses.* This disadvantage had increased in 
importance, due to the adoption of the practically smokeless 
powder of the modern weapon. 

Nevertheless, on the part of the English war office, pre- 
sumably caused by an ill-timed economy and by respect for 
antiquated traditions, which are possibly more valued in the 
English army than in ours, nothing was done to conform the 
uniforming of the English army to the demands of modern 
warfare and to undertake a radical change in the same. But 
one-half year before the opening of the South African war 
the uniforms were throughout of blue and red color. First, 
during the summer of 1899, when the outbreak of the war 
could be foreseen with tolerable accuracy, these important 
experiences were remembered in the English war office, and 
new uniforms, of which, in the summer of 1899, not one 
thread had been woven, were provided in all haste for those 
troops which in all probability would be first for detail to 
South Africa. Thanks to the exceptional ability and equip- 
ment of the English industries, it was possible by October 
to nearly clothe the first 40,000 men transported. The 
director-general of ordnance of the English war office, in a 
report of January 11, 1900, writes of this as follows: 

''The greatest of my difficulties grew from the fact that 
previous to their departure for South Africa, the troops or- 
dered for that service had to be newly clothed from head to 
foot. With the infantry, the blue helmet had to be replaced 


by a white one and the red blouse by one of khaki duck.^ 
After the embarcation had already begun orders were given 
to replace the khaki duck with khaki woolen fabric. Hardly 
had the manufacture of the khaki wool been begun when a 
new pattern of service blouse was introduced; this had to be 
abandoned because the contractors protested on account of 
the difficulties of production. 

''In place of the summer-cloth trousers, were substituted, 
first, those of khaki-colored duck and later those of khaki- 
colored wool. Even the boots had to be changed, as the shoe 
material for foreign service is different from that for home 
service. Also in the case of the artiller}^ and cavalry great 
difficulties had to be overcome; in place of cloth-riding 
trousers those of cord were introduced. The knee boots were 
replaced by wrap leggings and shoes. Similar alterations 
had to be introduced in the uniform of the special corps. 

' ' I leave it to any one to decide whether or not the method 
above described of outfitting troops is, in general, practical 
and suitable to the needs of an army that is first for duty in 
case of war. I recommend that as the greater part of our 
troops are now clothed in khaki colors the opportunity be 
embraced to introduce khaki as a similar color for the service 
uniforms of the arm3^" 

According to the report of the Royal Commission on the 
war in South Africa, the overcoming of the difficulties en- 
countered in the new uniforming of the troops, entailed a not 
insignificant outlay of funds. Had the English war ministry 
earlier undertook the solution of the exceptionall}^ important 
problem of uniforming the troops man}^ millions would have 
been saved. 

The color chosen for the new uniform, khaki, was a blend- 
ing of yellow, gray and brown. Undoubtedly this was a 
happy choice of colors for the South African landscape, as it 
primarily conformed to the surrounding natural colors of the 
country, and proved itself the most neutral color for South 
Africa. During the subsequent course of the campaign, after 
exposure to sun and rain, the khaki colors assumed all possible 
shades, from brown with reddish shimmer, to grayish green. 

« Khaki is an East Indian word, and means a yellow dust or powder. 
By the term "khaki," as used in this article, the color, not a material, is 


But all these shades were more or less neutral in the South 
African landscape. The present color of the English " serv- 
ice dress " matches tolerably accurately the khaki shades tested 
in South Africa. However, this color is probabl}^ by no 
means the only one fit and proper for Europe; in the middle 
European countries where there is much more green in the 
landscape and the atmosphere by no means as clear as in 
South Africa, the khaki must have a toning of green. 
According to the report of an English officer who was present 
at the great English maneuvers during the preceding summer, 
the khaki color — a mixture of brown and gra}^ — universally 
adopted in the English Army at the present time, was dis- 
tinguishable at a great distance upon a green background; 
on the contrary, upon a gray or brown background their 
firing lines in khaki were scarcely visible to the naked eye at 
a comparatively short distance. ''It has repeatedly hap- 
pened," continues the report, "that notwithstanding the 
fact that ray eyes are ver}^ good, I have first observed, with- 
out glasses, deployed infantry on an open terrain only after 
the}" had advanced a considerable time over an open plain, 
and then onl}" after I had sharply scrutinized some particular 
locality called to my attention for some reason. Then, when 
the field glass was used, numerous skirmish lines were dis- 
covered which had before been invisible." 

The experiments recently undertaken in England have 
demonstrated that the dark mouse-gray colors, with a slight 
greenish tone similar to the color of the uniform of our East 
Asiatic brigade of occupation, stands out the least, in the 
European atmosphere, from the difi'erent nuances of the ter- 
rain, and for our part of the earth's surface must be considered 
the most neutral color. In the combats of the South African 
war it was the experience that troops in motion at over 600 
meters were the least visible when the color of their uniform 
was a shade lighter than that of the locality. Darker colors 
as well as red, and especially white, attracted in the greatest 
degree the e3"e and fire of the enemy. 

On this account, shortl}^ after the first encounters, the 
"Scots Grays" began of their own volition to color their 
gray horses khaki, well knowing that a cavalryman upon 
reconnoissance duty must be as little visible as possible. It 
was entirely out of the question to conduct a successful recon- 


iioissance upon gray or white horses that are visible at such 
^reat distances. 

Likewise the Highlanders, whose dark kilts offered a splen- 
did target to the Boer riflemen, replaced them with khaki- 
colored shirts, and the artillery strove to merge itself into the 
surrounding landscape by painting the guns and carriages a 
khaki color. Only the ambulances preserved a bright color 
as striking as possible, so that they should stand out to the 
greatest degree against the surroundings. 

Between the uniforms of the separate branches of the serv- 
ice, as well as between regiments, there was absolutely no 
difference of color in the uniforms; but one color of uniform 
was seen, namel}^, khaki. On this account it was extremely 
difficult for the Boers (and often to their great disadvantage), 
to determine whether they had cavalry or infantry opposed 
to them. The long tenacious operation b}^ which the Second 
Cavalr}^ Brigade, Broadwood, consisting of hardly more than 
1,000 men fighting on foot, held the Boer army of over 4,000 
under Cronje at bay at Koedoesrand Drift for a whole day, 
February 17, 1900, and thereby sealed its fate, was partly 
made possible by the fact that the Boers did not recognize the 
cavalry as such, and were of the belief that they had English 
infantry opposed to them. Had Cronje known that onl}^ a 
small part of the cavalry division blocked his way, he surely 
would not have permitted himself to be long held back. 

The disadvantage which existed within their different organ- 
izations (no distinction in uniforms between regiments) was 
obviated by an order of November 2, 1899, which specified that 
each regiment should wear upon the left side of the helmet 
directly over the ear its particular regimental ornament, 
which formerly had been worn upon the shoulder strap. 

But far more than the differences of colors, any glittering 
or shining article drew the fire of the enemy. ''The smallest 
shining metal button operated in the sunlight like a miniature 
heliograph," so runs the report of an eyewitness from the 
seat of war. Even a metal mounting on the straps, the clasp 
of the sword belt, the bright mess equipment of a soldier 
prone on the ground often betrayed the position of the line 
and frequently caused the troops unnecessary losses. With 
the "Guard" at the fight on the Modder River, November 28, 
1899, it was observed that the aluminum telescope of an 


officer, and in another case the ahiniinuni canteen — the location 
of the line being betrayed in no other wa}^ — attracted the not 
agreeable attention of a machine gun located 1,400 meters 
distant. Even the polished leather of the equipments reflected 
the sunlight and had to receive a dull finish. Our colonial 
troops in South Africa undoubtedly have lately had the same 
experiences. The disproportionately great number of casual- 
ties among officers and noncommissioned officers who wore 
the officers' side arms, is traced in part to the gleammg of the 
steel scabbard, which attracted even at great distances the 
eyes of the keen-sighted native-born Boers. 

The English must have had the same experiences in regard 
to the Boers; the consequence was that following the very 
first engagements of the war, a complete revolution in the uni- 
forms of the officers was accomplished. Everything glitter- 
ing or shining was removed; the officers' side ai-ms, which 
had been proved not onl}^ useless but absolutely dangerous to 
their wearers, completely disappeared. The strap of the 
"Sam Brown" belt worn diagonall}^ across the chest, was laid 
aside, and likewise the stars and crowns upon the shoulder 
straps; in fact all insignia that distinguished officers from en- 
listed men were removed. The pattern of the officer's blouse 
was made to conform accuratel}^ to that of the soldier's; in place 
of the saber, the officers carried carbines. This idea in itself 
well grounded in principle, was carried to excess. Surely it 
was absolutely necessary to protect such a costly hard-to-be- 
replaced officers' corps from unnecessary^ losses; but insignia 
of rank, visible marks of difierence between commander and 
commanded, must exist, for the leader must alwa3^s be easily 
recognized and discoverable by his followers. Later, in the 
course of the war, the officers resumed their insignia of rank, 
which, however, were xnade of brown or bronzed metal and 
were worn generally on the back of the blouse collar. 

In a general order from the general headquarters dated 
Februar}^ 5, 1900, the following appears, viz: "* ^' * it is 
difficult to distinguish the officers in their present equipment 
and uniform, and it seems very desirable that they should 
wear some distinguishing mark either upon the back part of the 
blouse collar or on the back of the blouse itself." Neverthe- 
less, infantry officers carried the carbine during the whole 


campaign. However advantageous this might have been in 
hiding the officers as such from the enemy, it had this great 
disadvantage, that the}^ (the officers) took part in the firing 
during the engagements instead of directing their attention 
to the enemy in general and to the supervisioin of their own 
particular commands. 

On this account it has been proposed to arm the officers 
with a lire weapon, only for the purpose of deceiving the 
enem}^ and to deprive him of ammunition for the same in order 
to remove the temptation to take part in the firing. The 
best weapon for the leader in the modern combat, a combat 
that must be carried on and completed at great distances, 
against an enemy in a very inconspicuous uniform and against 
a practical!}^ smokeless powder, is the field glass, and more- 
over, the best that modern ingenuity can produce. This was 
recognized by the English, also, during the later course of the 
war. All officers, and to a great extent noncommissioned 
officers also, were equipped with a very good field glass, part 
in fact with the costh^ Zeiss instrument. 

No small difficulty was experienced by the English war 
ministr}^ at the beginning of the war in the selection of a suit- 
able material for the new khaki uniforms. At first it was 
made of duck and a light, half -wool serge; these two stuffs, 
however, during the course of the war did not stand the test, 
as they, although light, were very warm on account of their 
thick and impervious web and in the tropical climate uncom- 
fortable to wear. 

In a land like South Africa where the thermometer often 
within 12 hours ranges 25° R. (56i^ F.), material wholh^ of 
wool is the best; it is the best adapted to ever}^ climate, every 
season, to rain and drought, heat and cold; therefore, later in 
the war, uniforms were made entirely of woolen material, 
principally woolen cloth; it had, it is true, this disadvantage, 
that the soldier while advancing through underbrush is easih^ 
caught by the limbs and brambles and is likel}^ to tear his 
uniform; in a seat of war like South Africa, where there is a 
great deal of brier}^ underbrush, it is more practical to choose 
the smoother cord as a material. In order to preserve the 
hygienic advantage of the wool, the blouse was lined with a 
light flannel. Later the duck blouse, during the warm season. 


was issued to the garrison troops and those of occupation, 
who were less exposed to the influences of the South African 
climate; here the canvas proved satisfactory. 

As regards the pattern of the khaki uniform blouse, it was 
a model of practical comfort, and it had been well provided, 
that the physical and mental efforts of the soldier, who in 
l^resent warfare must fight for hours, even days, in a prone 
position, should not be unnecessarily increased by a binding, 
cramping lit of the uniform. It fitted so comfortabl}^ that 
the soldier could run, climb, crawl, and sleep in it, absolutely 
free and unconstrained. During the first period of the war, 
particularly during the advance of the army under Lord 
Roberts upon Bloemfontein during the days of Paardeberg, 
both officers and men did not remove their clothes during a 
week or even longer without finding it especially detrimental. 

The khaki uniform was worn in this war willingly and con- 
tentedly by everyone. It fitted loosely, so as to make allow- 
ance for shrinkage due to moisture and to permit the wearing 
of a \ est or of similar under-garments. It was very comfort- 
able about the neck. For the standing collar formerly worn, 
a rolling collar with two hooks had been substituted; under 
this, ordinarily, a khaki-colored silk neckerchief was worn, 
which was very comfortable; the wearing of a standing linen 
collar was exceptional. The enlisted men at the outset wore 
nothing under the collar; this- proved, however, disadvanta- 
geous, as the perspiration soon penetrated the collar and made 
it stiff. Later, in many organizations, a woolen neckerchief 
was selected for the soldiers. The blouse had on the exterior 
four large pockets, two on the chest and two on the hips; and 
in addition to these, one in the lining of the front part of the 
skirt. All the pockets were made to button. The four large 
pockets proved excellent for carrying ammunition and rations, 
as the troops on many occasions laid aside all dispensable 
articles of the equipment before entrance into battle. 

Very practical were the small leather straps placed on the 
blouse cuffs; the sleeve in rainy weather could be buckled 
close around the wrist to prevent the entrance of the rain 

The new uniform trousers were made of Bedford cord, a 
somewhat heavy but uncommonly durable material. They 
were cut according to the pattern of the English riding trousers, 


for all arms of the service, mounted or dismounted, and were 
accompanied by leggings. This covering of the lower extremi- 
ties proved excellent for war purposes and is worthy of imita- 
tion. Cases of chafing in the mounted troops were the 
exception; even during the extremely trying operations for 
the relief of Kimberly and the pursuit of Cronje in the middle 
of February, 1900, no such cases were reported in French's 
cavalry division. The practical qualities of these English 
riding trousers lie in the close-fitting cut under the knee, in 
the great breadth of the seat, as well as the great length of 
parts covering the upper thigh, which permitted a free com- 
fortable movement of the knee; from the knee down the trou- 
sers fitted snugly; around the ankle they were either strapped 
or buttoned; then where the leg pressed the saddle there was 
no seam. 

As foot wear, the high or half boot, such as is worn by 
us, was everywhere tabooed. The Englishman, thoroughl}^ 
experienced in the school of sport, rightly reasons that a 
mountain climber or a runner would never select such a foot 
covering, as it makes the escape of the foot exhalations very 
difficult and renders the skin of the foot very sensitive. After 
it has been wet the boot is drawn on with difficulty; more- 
over, it is very difficult to accommodate it to a chafed or galled 
foot. In the English army during the campaign only the lace 
shoe was worn by all arms of the service. It had no tongue, 
the flap under the lacing was made of one piece with the shoe 
so that water could not enter. The mounted troops fastened 
to the lace shoe a buckled spur, which, however, was placed 
above the heel so as not to interfere with the soldier in mov- 
ing on foot. This foot gear proved very satisfactory during 
the whole campaign, in all seasons of the year, and especially 
in severe rainy weather and in heavy clayey soil. 
• The diflerent arms of the English service had, therefore, not- 
withstanding here and there very long marches, extremely few 
foot troubles. For example, the Sixth and Ninth Divisions, 
in the pursuit of Cronje from the 15th to the IStli of Febru- 
ary, during which period they had several very extraordinarily 
long marches- to make several days in succession (several de- 
tachments over 45 km. in a da}'^), had very few cases of sore 
feet. The exact number has not been officiall}^ made known. 
In consequence, the two divisions early on the morning of 


FebruaiT 18 were able to give battle in practically full strength. 
This fortunate result of the pursuit is in part to be ascribed 
to the good foot wear. Moreover, lace shoes or short boots 
are ordinaril}" obtainable everywhere in an enenij^'s country, 
but high boots very seldom. 

In connection with the lace shoe and riding trousers the 
English soldier wore the ''puttie," a kind of legging in the 
form of a bandage, made of a strip of khaki-colored, very 
thick flannel, 2^ meters long and 12 cm. wide, which was 
wrapped around the leg from the knee down. This bandage 
upheld the calf of the leg ver}^ effectively and gave it, in 
marching, an excellent support. The putting on of the band- 
age required at first some little practice, but later the soldiers 
could put it on or take it off' in less than a minute. The put- 
tie reached from the knee down to the shoe, to which it had 
to be very carefully adjusted, in order that in rainy weather 
water could not enter the shoe from above. In cold weather 
the puttie was as warm as leather. If it were wet through ))y 
the rain it acted like a wxt bandage during the march, and 
during a rest could be easil}^ and quickly removed and replaced 
by another. Later, however, the putties were replaced here 
and there by others of waterproof material. In warm weather 
these leggings were more comfortable on the leg than leather 
ones, as they were not so warm and permitted to a greater 
degree the escape of the exhalations of the leg. An appreciable 
advantage was that in lying down, either during an engage- 
ment or for the purpose of sleeping, they exerted no pressure 
as leather leggings ordinaril}^ do. In packing the}^ took up 
such very little room that ever}^ soldier could carr}^ one or 
two pairs of putties with him. Washing and cleaning of the 
puttie was quickly and easily accomplished; the}^ dried in the 
air in a very short time. Few of the officers wore the puttie. 
The greater number used the puttie legging of thick, stiff' 

Officers and soldiers of the regular troops wore the cork hel- 
met as a head covering, which proved to be an impracticable 
head gear. Its stiff form interfered greatly with the soldiers 
while firing, especially in the prone position, and while rest- 
ing the same quality showed itself as a disadvantage. In 
addition, on account of its white color, it was visible in battle 
at long distances, and offered to the Boers a splendid target. 


The consequence was that ordinarily the troops removed it 
in battle; at Colenso, December 15, 1899, and Paardeberg, 
February 18, 1900, where a scorching temperature prevailed 
under a cloudless sky. The result was that the men suffered 
greath^ from the sun's heat, direct and reflected, and a large 
number experienced sunstrokes. The khaki-colored, wide- 
brimmed felt hat of the colonial and volunteer contingents 
proved to be much better. It was light, did not bind, pro- 
tected against the hottest sun's rays, as it was doubled or 
lined, and it could be worn while shooting or sleeping. A 
leather chin strap served to retain it in plac'e during running, 
riding, or in a strong wind. The material out of which the 
hats were made was compact and durable, so that rents in the 
felt very seldom occurred. Our older experienced officers of 
colonial troops characterize the last as ' ' the best of head gear 
for all climates so far experimented with.'' It has, as opposed 
to the helmet, in connection with which a cap must always be 
carried for use, the advantage that it in itself answers all pur- 
poses as a head covering. The vizorless English field cap, 
which covei s only a part of the head, was entirely unsuitable 
for use in the hot sun's rays. 

At the commencement of the cold season the army was 
issued the warm Indian uniform coat of thick woolen cloth 
and lined with flannel. It was drawn on over the uniform, 
had a row of horn buttons, and was patterned in the form of 
a jacket, so that it could be comfortably used on mounted 
dut}'. Both officers and soldiers prized it highly. The long, 
wide English cloak of thick waterproof blue cloth was not 
well liked, and was considered more as a burden than as an 
object of comfort. General Hilyard, before the Ro3^al Com- 
mission, criticised it very unfavorably as follows: ''The cloak 
was not worn by our soldiers on account of its striking colors 
and of its great weight; when rolled, the large size of the cloak, 
even when the men were in the prone position, offered the 
enemy a very favorable advantage." 

As to underclothing, every man wore thick cotton drawers, 
thick woolen stockings, a woolen undershirt with half sleeves 
and f ulh^ covering the trunk, and a blue flannel shirt. An 
important part of the small clothes was formed by the wide 
flannel abdominal bandage. According to English opinion, it 
should form a part of ever}^ military clothing outfit. 


In the infantry, in addition to his rifle, every soldier carried 
the side arm with waist belt, the two laro-e cartridge pouches, 
cooking utensil, canteen, and a large linen haversack. 

The additional equipment, viz, knapsack and contents, 
intrenching tools, blanket, and tent outtit, was transported 
with the baggage. The weight of the equipment carried by 
each soldier was onl}^ 19. C kg. (42^ lbs.), and in consequence 
less than that of the German (27.8 kg.-61.16 lbs.) and French 
(26.5 kg. = 58.3 lbs.) armies. This lightness of equipment 
explains in part the various splendid marches and the ex- 
tremely small number of sick therefrom. 

Of the parts of the equipment before named, the cartridge 
pouch decidedly failed to stand the test. Its principal fault, 
according to the report of the Royal Commission, was that, 
when the soldier was double-timing or running, the car- 
tridges ver}^ easily fell from the pouch. Likewise Lord 
Kitchener strongly criticised the pouch: "Our great loss of 
ammunition in this campaign, which furnished a source of 
supply to the enemy, was less to be ascribed to the lack of 
care on the part of the soldier than to the extraordinar}^ inu- 
tility of the part of the equipment in which he had to carry 
his ammunition." After the iirst engagements the cartridge 
pouches were thrown away by many of the men and replaced 
by cartridge belts such as the Boers and various colonial 
organizations wore. These belts, however, were made for 
single cartridges only and did not hold these in a sufEcientl}^ 
iirm manner, while those of the Boers were made to hold 
clips of cartridges. The Royal Commission therefore, 
strongly recommended in its report the adoption in the Eng 
lish army of a cartridge belt such as was worn by the Boers^ 
as by its substitution for the pouches the serious and unneces- 
sary loss of ammunition by the soldiers in rapid movement 
could be obviated most speedil}^ The method of carrying 
ammunition employed b}^ our colonial troops is A'^ery practical; 
also the clothing and equipment of this corps, as well as that 
of the East African '' Besatzungs Brigade," in this and in other 
respects seem suitable for active service, and in various de- 
tails, after judicious modifications, seem worth}^ of imitation 
for European conditions' also. By the above-mentioned 
troops the ammunition is carried in clips, the clips being- 
placed in small pockets, each of which contains from 2 to 3 


clips (10 to 15 cartridges), these pockets being* fastened to the 
broad waist belt and slings. 

The large linen haversack was primarily made of white ma- 
terial, but during the campaign was colored khaki; it served 
at first the same object as ours in Germany. As the knap- 
sack, however, was very heavy, and, when packed, badly bal- 
anced upon the back for carrying (Sir Charles Warren, in the 
presence of the Royal Commission, characterized the English 
knapsack as " an absurdity"), it was later not carried by the 
men, but left with the baggage. From this time on the soldiers 
placed the absolute necessities in the haversack and this latter 
became later, in addition to its original purpose, a substitute 
for the knapsack. Although primarily carried by means of 
a broad strap passing over the right shoulder to left hip, 
or by means of two hooks fastened to the waist belt, it was 
ultimately borne as a pack upon the back, and, like the German 
knapsack, the weight was supported b}^ two slings passing 
over the shoulder and the pack fastened to the belt. The 
two large cartridge boxes formed the counter weight. 

In the haversacks, as a rule the soldier, in addition to the 
absolutely necessary cleaning material, carried an iron mess 
can, a ration of bread or biscuit, the woolen cap, a pair of 
woolen stockings, as well as (when a fight was in prospect) 
ammunition. The other personal effects of the soldier, as 
well as extra clothing (1 pair canvas shoes, 1 flannel shirt, 1 
pair underdrawers, woolen stockings, puttie, sewing outfit, 
towel, soap), were ordinarily packed in the knapsacks. It was 
left, however, to the judgment of the commanders of the 
tactical units to direct changes, in every special case, in the 
marching order of his men. In this way the troops could 
from time to time be made independent of the baggage train, 
and it not seldom happened that individual command.s did 
not have their knapsacks at hand for many da3^s without spe- 
cially missing their contents; for example, the troops that 
took part in the combat of Spionkop were compelled to shift 
without them from the 15th to the 27th of elanuar3\ 

Undoubtedly the marching ability of the English infantr}^ 
was greatl}^ increased by the small burden carried by the 
individual soldiers; on the other hand, the train on this same 
account was not materiall}^ increased. This increase in the 
train was not especially noticeable in South Africa on account 


of the comparatively Hinall number of troops employed, but 
in the case of the tremendous armies of the great states of 
Europe, the train would be immeasurably increased. The 
weight of equipment, etc., now carried by the English infan- 
tr3'men is determined for every occasion by regulations based 
on campaign experience similar to those before described. 
In the last maneuvers, according to the report of an eyewit- 
ness, the baggage train of a battalion, the strength of which 
was only 500 to 600 men, consisted of from 13 to 15 wagons. 
A similar increase in the train under our conditions is impos- 
sible, and in consequence the German soldier must carry with 
him all that he needs, however disadvantageous the increase 
in weight carried ma}^ be. 

The canteen was made of aluminum, and over it a thick 
khaki-colored covering of felt was drawn; this before and, if 
possible, during the march was wetted, so that the contents, 
even in very warm weather, remained cool for a long period. 
Issued to the soldier as part of his equipment was a large, 
strong pocketknife with a ring, by which (with a small chain) 
it was suspended to the back part of the belt. 

The majority of the English officers called before the Royal 
Commission delivered a ver}^ unfavorable opinion on the 
entrenching tool carried by the men. The small spade, which 
is similar to the German one, was considered too weak; it was 
more burdensome than useful. Later a strong entrenching 
tool was issued and w^as transported in small, light, mule 
carts which closely accompanied the troops. In many cases 
pack mules were used to carry not onl}^ the entrenching tools, 
but also ammunition. One pack mule was sufficient for a 

With the cavalry the question of the weight to be carried 
by horse and rider was of greater moment than with the in- 
fantr}^ Concerning the reasons for the great loss of horses 
in this war," opinions, it must be admitted, are widely diver- 
gent. However, very noteworthy opinions, among them that 
of the commander of the cavalry division of General French, 

« For example, the cavalry division (French), which at the beginning 
of the operations under Lord Roberts, early part of March, 1900, had about 
4,800 horses, lost over 2,000 during the advance on Bloemfontein, Febru- 
ary 12 to March 13. 


were to the effect that a material source of the great loss was 
the too great burdening of the horse/^ especially at the begin- 
ning of the campaign. It was sought to rectify that defect 
by the provisions of several orders. The following appeared 
in a general order of February 5, 1900, from general head- 
quarters, viz: "On cavalry reconnaisances and patrols which 
in all probability will have a duration of not more than one 
day the pack and equipment of the cavalrymen will be light- 
ened as much as possible, and nothing will be taken along ex- 
cept what is absolutely indispensable." Simultaneous with 
this the following order to all mounted troops was issued by 
the chief of staff, Lord Kitchener: 

"Chief of Staff, 

" Ca'pe Towii^ February 5, 1900. 
" The following suggestions concerning the diminution of 
the weight of equipment, etc. , carried by the cavalry horses 
is hereby brought to the attention of all concerned. They 
have been compiled by Major Rimington, of the Sixth Innis- 
killing Dragoons, and are the result of the personal experience 
of this officer during the present campaign. The commander 
in chief expects from the commanding officers of all mounted 
troops that they will do all in their power to diminish the 
weights carried by the horses in so far as it may be possible. 
"Kitchener of Khartoum, A. B. 

'' Chief of Staff , 

"The following make up the equipment of man and horse: 
(1) a warm cloak; (2) cooking outfit with one ration; (3) grain 
sack (reserve ammunition, if necessary, can be carried therein); 
(4) a good halter of neat's leather (colonial pattern) ; (5) wire 
cutter; (6) carbine (to be carried by trooper); (7) cartridge 
belt with 50 cartridges (also to be carried by soldier); (8) 
haversack with 50 cartridges (carried by soldier); (9) knife 
and lariat; (10) canteen; (11) field glass; (12) knife, fork, and 
spoon (in haversack); (13) saddle of the Cape police, made 
according to English pattern, and blanket. 

"Of the former carried equipment the following are to be 
left out: (1) clothing bag and contents; (2) horse-grooming 

« Weight of rider (of light weight) included, it amounted to from 19 to 
20 stone (266 to 280 lbs). 

17432—05 5 


outfit; (3) horseshoe holders and reserve shoes; (4) ha}^ net; 
(5) extra shoes; (6) breast straps; (7) tent pegs; (8) hoof 

"The following articles wrapped in a blanket and to be 
loaded upon the wagons: (1) 1 pair light shoes; (2) 1 pair 
stockings; (3) 1 extra shirt; (4) 1 woolen cap; (5) 1 extra pair 
trousers; (6) 1 woolen under jacket (carried by soldier during 
cold season); (7) towel and soap; (8) during the cold season a 
second blanket is to be added." 

General French, before the Royal Commission, advanced a 
much more radical proposal concerning a reduction of the 
weight carried by the horse. Based upon his wide war ex- 
perience, he gave it as his thorough belief that it is especially 
necessary to unburden horse and rider as much as it can 
possibly be done; in his opinion, the trooper should carry 
with him only his weapons and ammunition. 

"In a modern war," he continued, "it will surely be neces- 
sary for the cavalry, only too often, to pass nights in the 
open, and to subsist on the country, and frequently, no doubt, 
it will be unable to find proper forage." 

"Nevertheless it will be fully impossible in the future to 
overburden our cavalry as we did in the last campaign, if we 
wish it to properly perform its function as cavalry." 

General French proposed to attach to the cavahy light 
carts or pack animals, according to the character of the coun- 
try, on which all extras in the way of forage and equipments, 
which formerly were carried on the horse, should be trans- 
ported. These light carts should closely accompany the squad- 
rons as "first-line transport," while the present regimental 
"transports" should form the "second-line transport," and 
the commissariat train the "third-line transport." As a re- 
sult of the efforts in this direction, the weight of equipment, 
etc., carried b}^ the horse was so reduced that many cavalr}^ 
regiments, especially those that arrived later, carried neither 
saber nor lance, and had the carbine, later the rifle, as the 
only weapon. In consequence, the cavalry deteriorated in 
value to nothing but mounted infantry. But that the South 
African war has taught that the fighting efi'ectiveness of cav- 
alry in the future demands the employment of the fire weapon 
only is one of the many false doctrines which this war, on 
account of the little varied character of opponent and seat of 


war, has developed. A genuine cavalry will be able to dis- 
pense with neither the saber nor the lance, as additional 
weapons to the firearm, however disadvantageous they may 
be to the mobility of and on account of the increased weight 
carried by horse and rider. It is a question, however, if the 
value of cavalry, as such, can not be enhanced by equipping 
it with a better firearm, especially one of greater range, as its 
effective action in fighting on foot is displayed in the majority 
of cases at great distances, viz, by issuing it the infantry 
rifle instead of the carbine. With the present method of car- 
rying and holding the carbine — be it upon the back, as now 
in the Russian and part of the English army (colonial forma- 
tions), or at the right side, as in the German army — this much 
to be desired change is not, however, possible. 

Later, in the South African war, several of the English 
cavalry regiments carried the rifle in a vertical position at the 
left side, the stock resting in a contrivance fastened to the 
left rear side of the saddle, and with the barrel held fast in the 
rear of the left shoulder of the rider by a special apparatus. 
This method of carrying the weapon is the prototype of a 
new invention by Lieut. Col. J. H. Patterson, D. S. O., of 
the Essex Imperial Yeomanry." 

This apparatus is constructed in two parts, one carried by 
the trooper, the other fastened to the saddle. It consists of 
a broad leather belt to which, on the left rear part close to 
the spinal column of the trooper, is fastened obliquely a 
metal slot about 9 cm. (3i in.) long. The rifle w^hen slung is 
fastened to the belt by means of a stud fixed to the lower 
band of the weapon, which is inserted in the slot. The rifle 
thus hangs upright with the barrel to the rear close to the 
left of the rider's back. In order to transfer the weight of 
the weapon from the hip to the shoulder, a strap passing 
over the right shoulder is fastened to the belt. When the 
rider is dismounted the butt of the gun does not touch the 

After mounting the rider transfers the weight of the piece 
to the horse by pressing the small of the stock into a metal 
spring clutch attached to the left side of the saddle, which 

« One of these Patterson rifle carriers was under test by the United 
States Cavalry Board at Fort Riley, Kans., during the summer and 
autumn of 1904. — Editor. 


clasps the piece directly in rear of the trig-o-er guard. The 
clutch is fastened to a leather frog, which in turn hangs from 
the back part of the near side of the saddle. A slight blow 
against the stock is sufficient to force the small of the stock 
into the clutch. 

By the movements of dismounting the piece is freed from 
the clutch, so that trooper and weapon are separated from the 
horse. When the trooper is mounted any chance plunge or 
fall detaches the weapon from the clutch, so the equipment is 
a source of no danger to the rider. B}^ slipping the stud 
from the slot the rifle is ready to hand for use. 

An opinion as to whether or not this invention is practical 
in every respect for all military purposes can not be here 
delivered, as further tests are necessar}^ It is especiall}^ a 
question if the mechanism, particular!}^ the clutch on the 
saddle, is sufficiently strong and durable, and if it will not be 
injured or will not even be an impediment in column and line 
movements. Assuredl}^, with this method of carr3^ing the 
carbine in use, the saber must be w^orn on the right side. 
This, however, would be open to no objection. On the other 
hand, it would divide more equally on the two sides the load 
carried by the horse. The foundation idea of the invention, 
however, is undoubtedly sound and practical. It has, as 
compared with former weapon-carr3-ing equipments, very 
important advantages. Especially would it not only make it 
possible to arm the cavalry with the long-range infantr}^ rifle, 
but also would eliminate the great disadvantage of fastening 
the weapon, as in our service, to the saddle. The rifle would 
by this system be attached to the trooper. If he, through a 
sudden fall or wound, were thrown from his horse, he would 
not be absolutely weaponless, as formerly. Of course, through 
the employment of this or a similar carrying equipment, the 
rider is fastened to the horse; but this disadvantage is only a 
seeming one, for this fastening is so light that if the rider 
from any cause is separated suddenly from his horse the 
piece in every case is loosened of Itself from the saddle. 

Other advantages of this contrivance are that the trooper, 
either mounted or dismounted, has both hands free, and the 
loss of time due to the necessity of removing the carbine from 
the saddle is dispensed with, so that the soldier is sooner ready 


for action. Further, this method of carrying- the piece is more 
comfortable to therider while mounted than all others, and per- 
mits of a free and unhindered use of the lance and saber; more- 
over, in a hand-to-hand conflict the barrel of the piece protects, 
to a certain decree, the back of the trooper. Finall}^, the 
weight and cost of manufacture of this invention are less than 
those of former appliances of the same kind.^ 

Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson has his invention, which he 
himself tested in South Africa for two years, to thank for his 
life. Concerning this, he writes to the author as follows: 
'' During the last war in South Africa I had trotted forward 
alone upon a reconnaissance and rode, without noticing- it, 
inside of the enemy's lines. Suddenl}^ 1 was fired upon at 
short range. I had run upon a detachment of about one-half 
dozen BOers and received one bullet through the hat and 
another through the sleeve, but I myself was untouched. As 
soon as I was fired on I sprang from my horse and threw 
myself into the high grass that grew in this locality. As I 
sprang from my horse my rifle had detached itself from the 
saddle, thanks to the carrying equipment, and remained at ni}^ 
left side. Protected from sight by the high grass, I now crept 
from the place at which I had sprung from my horse, to a 
small hillock near by, from which I, in my turn, opened fire on 
the Boers. Apparently, they believed that they had killed me 
by their first volley, and were so surprised and frightened b}" 
this unexpected fire that they, on their side, took to flight 
most promptly. 1 was fortunate enough to kill two of their 
horses and to wound three of the men. . I brought the latter 
back to our camp as prisoners. " 

This small fortunate coup de main received a flattering 
mention in a "special dispatch" of Lord Kitchener of eluh^ 9, 

During the latter part oi the South African war, difl'erent 
organizations of cavalry and mounted infantry tested the Pat- 
terson invention. The opinions given concerning it were uni- 
versally favorable and flattering. Lately, it is true, a few less 
favorable reports have been received from English officers in 

«ror further on this subject see pages 139 to 142, "Bulletin of Mihtary 
Notes" for June 30, I'dQ^. — Translator' s note. 


Egypt who tested the appanitus durino- the last 3'ear. They 
criticize the mechanical part of the invention, and assert that 
the clutch easily relaxes and sometimes breaks; likewise, that 
the insertion and removal of the stud into and from tlie slot 
is too difficult for the soldier. Other authoritative opinions, 
however, dispute these disadvantages and declare very decid- 
edly for the adoption of the Patterson invention. 

During the past year Lord Kitchener instituted tests of 
this contrivance in the Indian army. These were so satisfac- 
tory that not long since the invention was generally issued to 
this army. The tests in England have not as yet been com- 

The experiences of the South African war have instilled 
new life into all departments and branches of the English 
army. In addition to reforms in the tactical instruction of 
the troops, and in the organization and administration of the 
army, the war has brought about a complete revolution in the 
clothing and equipment; everything antiquated has been re- 
jected and the experiences of this war have been fully utilized. 
The unanimous opinion of all officers educated in the school 
of war experience, is that the question of clothing in war is 
such a great and serious one that human vanity or former 
small formalities can have no voice in the matter. Hence, 
the uniform worn and tested in South Africa was, before a 
twelve months had passed, adopted in the English arm}^ as the 
so-called "service dress." It is in many respects to be looked 
upon as the model of a practical, war-service uniform, from 
which, before all, everything polished or shining has been 
removed. It has, moreover, the advantage of being becoming 
and of having a thoroughly military appearance. 

In the opinion of a military expert who, the past summer, 
during the English maneuvers, for the first time saw the new 
uniform in use, "the new field dress is not only a practical 
and simple but also a becoming war uniform; the cloth gathers 
little dirt, and, notwithstanding the bivouac they had just 
made in the rain, the troops made an orderly, tidy, very 
military appearance." 

With a proper appreciation of the value of the traditions 
attached to the former uniforms of many organizations, the 
English army administration has been regardful of them when 


possible, and has preserved them in the new outfit. So, for 
instance, the Highland reg-iments have retained the kilt, to 
which they clung with such great pride, only, instead of the 
bright-checkered kilt, one of khaki is now worn. 

For parade, when off duty, and on leave, all regiments will 
wear the former colored and more ornamental uniform until 
further orders. The militar}^ authorities of all the great 
powers have anew been led by the experiences of the South 
African war to more earnestly consider the question of sup- 
pl3ang the troops with clothing and equipment more suitable 
for war purposes. Thorough preparation for war demands 
the early settlement of this question. 


By Gen. H. Bonnal. 

Translated for the Second Division General Staff, U. S. Army, by Second Lieut. Charles 
M. Allen, Artillery Corps. 

The Revue des Deux-Mondes of June 15, 1902, published 
under the heading Lessons from the South African War^ an 
anonymous article which received much notice in France and 
other countries. 

In the course of this article, written in an animated style, 
the author expresses various opinions, some of which are 
concurred in by most military men and others more or less 

The present article is an anal3^sis of the article in question, 
which, aside from its own value, has over similar works the 
great advantage of containing the notes of a witness of the 
battles which took place on the plains of the Orange River. 

Like all analyses the following article repeats the essential 
passages of that of the Revue des Deux-Mondes^ followed by 

The article of the Revue des Deux-Mondes is divided into 
three parts: 

An introduction of several pages contains a resume of the 
evolution of the art of war from the time of Frederick the 
Great until the present time. 

The first part is devoted to a description of the customs 
and warlike disposition of the Boers. 

in the second part the author describes the operations of 
the English from October, 1899, to February, 1900, then 
gives place to an eyewitness of the operations on the veldt. 

The third part contains the conclusions of the author with 
a view to the next European war. 

« Published by R. Chapelot & Co., No. 30 Rue de Passage Dauphin, 
Paris (1903). 




Can the continental armies derive protit from the lessons of the South African war? 

Assuredly, especially as to the properties, now well known, 
of a small-caliber rifle, using smokeless powder, and having a 
very flat trajectory, from which will result tactical disposi- 
tions accentuating the evolution manifest during the last cen- 
tur}^, of successive attacks and an economy of strength. 

Certain military instructors deny it, and especially those who, taking for gospel the 
history of the Napoleonic campaigns in the science of strategy and even of tactics, obsti- 
nately wish to use with modern weapons the methods of the past. 

The author refuses to certain military instructors all power 
of adaptation. 

The reproach is no doubt merited, for there are two kinds 
of militar}^ instructors — those who persist in following the 
beaten paths, and those who, having a mind of their own, 
strive to develop in their students powers of observation, of 
judgment, and decision, so necessar\^ to the man of war. 

The true military instructor is one who gives small time to 
didactic teaching, but who turns most of his attention to the 
study of concrete examples, turning his back on gospels as 
well as on speculative teaching. 

Thus it is that in the greater part of the grand maneuvers of Europe one still sees, 
after a more or less extended preparation by fire, attacks called "decisive," executed by 
infantry in compact masses, directed against the enemy to the accompaniment of their 
bands with drums beating the charge. 

Decisive? Certainly. Since the 18th of August, 1870, such attacks have been so for the 
troops making them. Without exception they have terminated in bloody disasters. 

If the methods of instruction of the large units were of a 
really practical character, and if the knowledge of tactics in 
all its branches were more fulty developed, our grand maneu- 
vers would to a certain extent have the appearance of real war. 

We say ""'to a certain extent" because, on account of the 
short time given each day to the combat, properly called, the 
grand maneuvers can be only an outline of the operations on 
the field of battle. 

It is in the garrisons and camps of instruction that com- 
panies, battalions, regiments, and brigades ought to be trained 
to act as they would in the presence of the enemy. There at 
least one knows from where attacks will come, while in the 
grand maneuvers this is impossible. 

The grand maneuvers would be only trials of endurance for 


the troops and exercises for the different arms of the service, 
but it would be necessary to keep them up. 

Attacks en masse without sufficient preparation are to be 

Under Napoleon I the role of an attack en masse was not so 
much to fall upon the enemy with compact bodies of troops 
as to push to the extreme a former success gained at the 
decisiye point b}^ the combined action of numerous batteries 
and bodies of infantry fighting as skirmishers. The attack en 
masse acted then as a reservoir, from which could be drawn 
the elements of fresh efforts to enlarge the breach and trans- 
form a partial success into a complete ViQiovj. 

Though the attack e7i masse directed against an enemy still 
in the possession of the greater portion of his forces is a crime, 
it suffices to immortalize the general who, having prepared it, 
makes it succeed. 

According to the author the decisive attack of the Germans 
on St. Privat, August 18, 1870, should have ended in a 
bloody disaster. It was, however, this attack, made as night 
was falling, which procured them the victory and in a measure 
decided the fate of the campaign. 

The author no doubt had reference to the premature attack 
of the First Division of the Prussian Guard a little before 6 
p. m. This attack is in fact the most striking example one 
can cite in favor of the necessar}^ combination of the fire of 
artiller}^ and infantr}^ to make a breach in the enemj^'s line. 

Under the circumstances, none of the conditions of success 
haying been fulfilled, the disaster of the First Division of the 
Guard ought to have been complete, and so it was, without, 
however, carrying with it the ffight of the troops who com- 
posed it. 

But the priests of the Imperial cult do not admit changes. They extol the action en 
maf>se of the beginning of the century. They resolutely refuse to recognize the principle 
stated by the master; "An army ought to change its tactics every ten years.'' 

The priests in question can only be, in the mind of the 
author, the ''certain military instructors.'' 

No more action eji masse/ It is easy to say so, but with 
what shall we replace all the methods known and tried by 
experience for subsisting, maneuvering, and fighting a million 
men opposed to another million men in a theater of operations 
relatively restricted ? 


The principle which the author attriVmte.s to Napoleon is 
inexactly stated. It should read as follows: "It is necessar}" 
to change the tactics of war ever}" ten years if one wishes to 
maintain some superiority." 

The expression, "the tactics of war," as used by Napoleon^ 
had a very general meaning, applying even more to strateg}^ 
as we know the term to-da3% than to tactics proper. 

The author complains of the resistance to progress in the 
armies, especially the older ones, and, as a stimulus, calls up 
the specter of Jena, using, of course, the German point of view. 
But if the Prussians were beaten at Jena, it was because 
Frederick was dead and Napoleon very much alive. 

Nevertheless, the power of the rifle in the hands of skirmishers was a factor to be reck- 
oned with. Frederick did not make use of it, because in his time fire-action counted for 
little. The bayonet was the deciding factor. 

It was not the power of the rifle, using flintlock and spher- 
ical bullets, which gave to the skirmishers of the Revolution- 
ar}^ armies, beginning with 1794, an overwhelming superiority 
over troops formed in line at close order. 

The skirmishers of the Revolutionar}^ period took position 
at fighting distance in front of an enem}^ who was stationary 
and formed in three ranks, the men standing shoulder to 

Under these conditions the scattered skirmishers had before 
them a very vulnerable target, while a majority of the enemy's 
shots fell in their intervals. But this was an advantage 
of secondary importance when compared to that which was 
secured by the Republican armies in the use of reserves. 

In fact, the linear order required the deployment of almost 
the entire force in a stationary and compact line, while the 
use of skirmishers required a portion of the efi'ective force 
var^nng only from one quarter to one half; hence the Repub- 
lican leaders possessed strong reserves, which they knew how 
to throw at the proper moment against the salient points of 
the enemy's front or flank, whose capture carried with it the 
downfall of the entire line of defense. 

Before the enemy's line, strong as a whole, but relativel}" 
weak at the point of attack, on which would converge the 
main efiorts of the three arms, the skirmishers, forming cur- 
tains, removed from the fire action that character of rapid 
decision which it had in the time of Frederick, and thus se- 


cured to the command the time necessary for maneuvers and 
dispositions in preparation for the decisive action. 

Victor}^ was g'ained then by directing- against the entire line 
of the enem}^ a series of partial attacks by skirmishers and in 
itsing at the proper moment an overwhelming force against 
some skillfully chosen point. 

To say that Frederick did not utilize fire action is to betray 
an imperfect knowledge of his battles. Never, perhaps, has 
the power of musketry fire manifested itself in so decisive a 
manner as in the battles of Prague, of Kollin, and of Leuthen. 

An elite of officers, such as Bourcet and Thiel, professors of Bonaparte at Auxonne, pre- 
pared the tactics of the Revolution, which replaced those of Guibert and of Gribeauval. 

The tactics of the Revolution sprang into being without 
preparation, since the}^ were developed under the hard rule of 
circumstances and necessity. Who could be made to believe 
that the Revolutionary generals, all more or less improvised, 
hence lacking all military instruction, could be influenced by 
the researches of a Bourcet or of a Mesnil-Durand? 

As to Gribeauval, we do not believe even now that he was 
a great tactician, his glor^^ of having- created a very homo- 
geneous system of artillery alwaj^s having appeared to us to 
be merely a technical one. 

Another error, which is opposed by the present science of 
psychology, consists in thinking that Thiel could have been an 
instructor of Bonaparte. 

Such a man as Napoleon never had an instructor. He 
developed wholly in himself, by direct observation and reflec- 
tion on events in which he took part, and thanks to his excep- 
tional ability to separate the important from the unimportant. 

A man such as Hannibal or Napoleon makes his impress on the military science of his 
time and carries it to the highest degree of perfection that it can then attain. He shows 
by admirable examples the dispositions which are suited to the circumstances and means 
of his time, and nothing more. It is useless to attempt to imitate them to-day, when our 
instruments of war differ entirely from theirs. 

Let us pass over Hannibal and the militar}^ science of his 
time, the term "science" supposing a degree of intellectual 
culture which the Carthaginian generals probabl}^ did not 
possess, and turn to Napoleon. 

The author is persuaded that this man carried military' 
science to its highest degree of perfection. 

He, and he alone, personified the military art of his time, 
after having stifled the initiative of subordinates, crushed 


the personality of superiors, and so completely absorbed all 
the functions of connnand that his lieutenants, as soon as the}^ 
were left to themselves, after 1812, became an easy pre}^ for 
opposing generals of a second order. 

Could one find in France after Waterloo a trace of the 
military science to which Napoleon had given his imprint? 

In Europe, the Prussians alone knew how to profit, after 
his death, by the lessons of the master, and it was througli 
them that they were able to conduct, in the skillful manner 
known to all, the fruitful campaigns of 1866 and of 1870-1871. 

Our present instruments of war differ from those used by 
Napoleon, but not absolutely. The art in time of peace con- 
sists in appreciating at their just value modifications in 
organization, means of transportation and communication, 
finally, in armament, and in applying to all the best methods 
for attaining the supreme object, which is victory. 

The tactics of the future will depend much more on the moral condition of the nation 
at the beginning of the war and upon the individual energy of the soldier than upon the 
power of its armament. 

The tactics of to-morrow, a little different from those of 
yesterday, will give good results if our corps of officers, com- 
posed of good material, vigorous, and enthusiastic, has been 
able to acquire a knowledge of the real conditions of the 
battlefield, and to give to the rank and file, mentallv and 
physically, a solid military education. 

The effect of rapid-fire arms and smokeless powder forced the English to totally 
abandon their former methods. A new system of tactics, entirely different from that 
now applied in most European armies, has been improvised and adopted by them. 

Ever3^one knows that among English officers various sports 
are held more in honor than professional study. Intellectual 
standards are affected by this. And again, the English officer 
is too much absorbed in his outside duties to give much 
time to his company. Despite these unhappy conditions, 
the practical mind and force of character inherent in the 
Anglo-Saxon race must soon lead the English to discover and 
put in operation a S3^stem of tactics appropriate to a special 
kind of enemy, such as were the Boers. 

The same thing took place at the beginning of the conquest 
of Algeria. After numerous checks, due to tactical disposi- 
tions not adapted to the special conditions of a war in an 
Arabian country, the French generals, and first of all Marshal 


Bugeaucl, chose the special mode of action necessary in order 
to conquer, and their success was constant thereafter. 

But in 1870, when our generals, educated in the school of 
the Algerian campaigns, were opposed to German troops, 
they could not, lacking sufficient preparation, modify the 
methods dear to them, and their professional inferiority 
became flagrant when compared to adversaries who had culti- 
vated industriously the traditions of the great wars, and had 
taken into account the material progress which had taken 
place in all branches of human activity. 

The author takes a stand against the criticisms addressed 
during the South African war against the English commanders 
and their troops. His principal argument in favor of the 
English army consists in saying that the officers were prodigal 
of their blood and that the troops of 1899-1900 were excellent. 

In August, 1870, the French officers and men showed a 
bravery of the highest character, and 3^et the French army 
of this time could not conquer on any single day, even when 
through favorable circumstances it was opposed to inferior 
numbers, as at Spicheren, Borny, and Mars-la-Tour. 

The criticisms of the English generals and troops accentuate, 
not their lack of braver}^, but their tactical impotency. 

Until the arrival of Lord Roberts in South Africa the 
Enlish made use of the pure linear system of tactics, like the 
French in 1870, and like them had to sufier the unhappy 


The ten pages devoted by the author to the character, cus- 
toms, and manner of fighting of the Boers contain a full 
resume of all that has been said or written of this unique 

The Boer is in the full sense of the term a ''mounted in- 
fantryman," who understands perfectly how to make use of 
both his horse and his rifle. 

In partisan warfare the Boers showed themselves incompar- 
able, but throughout the operations at the close of the war 
they could only defend positions naturally very strong, with- 
out ever making a counter attack, even when their superiority 
of fire had, to a certain extent, put the enem}^ at their mercy. 


Again, the Boers -individualists in the extreme, without 
discipline, and lacking all power to maneuver — could never 
hold out against an enveloping attack, which was for them 
always the signal for a disorderly retreat. 


The author states that in 1899 there took place at the camp 
of instruction on Salisbury Plain maneuvers which preceded 
b}^ a few days only, the departure for South Africa of some of 
the troops taking part. 

It can be stated here that their methods of fighting were very nearly those of a major, 
ityof European armies, more particularly, perhaps, with regard to the cavalry and 

There can be no doubt that the author wrote the preceding 
lines in good faith, but the foreign attaches who saw the Eng- 
lish maneuvers shortly before the South African war reported 
an impression less favorable. 

Moreover, General Sir Redvers Buller, who directed the 
maneuvers of 1899, shortly before his departure for South 
Africa, did not show himself to be very optimistic, and his 
criticisms emphasized the lack of tactical instruction of the 
English troops. 

This officer called attention to the insufficient preparation of 
attack, the massing of troops, absence of unity of action, and 
the ignorance reigning in each arm of the service on the sub- 
ject of the tactics of its sister branches. 

General Buller said of the English cavalry and infantry, 
"that they know where the}' ought to go, but the}" are igno- 
rant of what they have to do when they get there." 

In other words, the English troops know how to form 
according to regulations, but they can not adapt themselves 
to the varying circumstances of the action. 

Their tactical impotency can not be stated in polite terms 
in a clearer way. 

After praising the maneuvering ability of the English army 
the author leads the reader to the battle of Talana Hill, Octo- 
ber 20, 1899: 

General Symons, commanding 4 battalions of infantry, 1 regiment of cavalry, and a 
body of Natal police, about 4,500 men in all, had established his camp to the west of and 
near the little village of Dundee. At 4,500 meters, a cannon shot to the northeast, there 
lies a line of heights, Talana Hill, Impati-Mount, etc., from which the town is separated 
by a moderately deep valley. 


. General Symons covered himself toward the enemy by a line of advance posts placed 
on these heights. 

The troops in camp, thus covered to a distance of about 5 kilometers, believed them- 
selves safe. They did not take into account the fact that one line of advance posts, 
however well placed, is always surprised when it is attacked, in its supposed positions of 
safety. It was for this reason that Marshal Bugeaud organized his system of outposts 
which allowed the line of advance posts to be transformed in a short time into a line of 

On the other hand, we read in the excellent and very com- 
plete history of the South African war compiled under the 
direction of the Second Division of the General Staff: 

Although commanding the English camp at about 4,000 meters these heights (Talana 
Hill, Impati-Mount) had not been occupied on the night of the 19-20 October except by 
a small post of mounted infantry. 

This, then, is what the line of advance posts, placed on the 
heights which commanded the English camp at 4,000 meters 
resolves itself into. 

The comments of the author on the so-called placing of a 
line of advance posts on the heights to the east of the English 
€amp lose at once all instructive value and are stricken out 

Besides, these comments express a false idea; for advance 
posts, properly placed, intelligently connected, with the sev- 
eral elements properly performing their duties, can not be 

What shall we think of the Bugeaud system of outposts, 
which permitted the line of advance posts to be transformed 
in a few minutes into a line of battle ? 

The author would probabl}^ not have written this sentence 
if he had looked up the chapter in the works of Bugeaud 
which treats of the service of security at night of a completely 
isolated detachment. ^^ 

Let us return to the battle of Talana Hill. 

The commandos under the orders of Gen. Lucas Mayer 
occupied the heights of Talana Hill at 3:30 a. m., drove back 
the little advance post, and opened iire with their 5 guns, 
about 5 a. m. , on the English camp. 

Surprise, disorder, then formation of troops in good order 
and return lire by the English artillery till 7:30 a. m. 

Three English battalions then move in battle formation 
directl}^ against the Boers occupying Talana Hill, and toward 

« ''Military Works of Marshal Bugeaud," collected and arranged by 
Weil, former captain of cavalry, p. 98, .Librairie Baudoin, 1883. 

17432—05 6 


1 p. m., after various efforts, dislodge the enemy from his 

During the action a squadron of English hussars, sent alone 
to act against the enemy's rear, was surrounded and captured. 

The English losses were 10 officers and 31 men killed, 20 
officers and 165 men wounded, and 9 officers and 211 men taken 

The author of the article of the Revue des Deux Mondes 
says of this battle: 

The action commenced and was carried out in the regulation manner. 

'Who has ever seen a regulation, even an English one, which 
required the bull to be taken by the horns? 

The regulations prescribe formations, from which the com- 
mander makes his choice and then modifies to suit the circum- 
stances; but there are not and can not be tactical regulations. 

However, our regulations of May 28, 1895, on troops in 
campaign give under the heading of the combat, certain advice 
which General Symons would have done well to follow, and 
mentions the following points to be distinguished in every 
action of an isolated force: The preparation, or attack on the 
enemy's entire line, and the decision obtained by a violent 
effort concentrated on some well chosen point and, finally, 

The history of the Second Division, General Staff, brings 
out this point in a forcible manner when it states: 

The heavy losses of the English infantry during its advance without cover should not 
come as a surprise, knowing the effect of modern armament. They show the advantage 
to be gained by maneuvering, instead of making a frontal attack. Guided and covered 
by an advance guard action. General Symons might have been able to dislodge the enemy 
by maneuvering against his flanks. 

On the Boer side a minimum loss, but complete passivity 
with a very skillful employment of their fire. 

The author takes care not to describe the battle of Elands- 
laagte which took place the next day, October 21, and in 
which General French by combining an advance guard action 
with an enveloping movement, was very successful in beating 
down the resistance of a detachment of Boers under General 

This battle contradicts the reasoning which the author seeks 
to establish, through a preconceived idea, that the tactical 
methods of the English underwent a continuous transforma- 


tion, under the influence of events, from the beginning of the 
campaign to the taking of Bloemfontein. 

The article of the Revue des Deaux Mondes then gives a 
very succinct resume of the battles of December, 1899, and 
January, 1900, all more or less unfavorable to the English 

According to the author: 

The English threw themselves on the enemy without having defined his position by 
reconnaissance. They employed deep formations, using successive lines, which received 
all the bullets sent by the enemy. 

What is this reconnoitering action the regretable absence 
of which is pointed out, if not the "advance guard action," a 
term disliked so much by the author ? 

According to him it was only on January 20, 1900, at the 
battle of Venters-Spruit that the change of tactics he delin- 
eates brought it about that on this day the two battalions at 
at the head of the Woodgate Brigade: 

Formed in long, thin lines and advanced by rushes. They arrive at the plateau, which is 
approached by a glacis of about 900 meters, and try to ascend. But here, after consider- 
able losses, they are stranded. These troops do not yet know how to carry through an 

Lord Roberts will show another way. The evolution of tactics is accomplished. Its 
theater of operations will be the Orange Free State. 

Thus, on January 20, 1900, the English troops were igno- 
rant of the proper means of succeeding in an attack, but one 
month later their change of tactics was completed, thanks to 
Lord Roberts, and this change was particularly remarkable, 
in that henceforth every action with the Boers ended in victory 
for the English. 

One can believe this easily when one knows that the troops 
of Lord Roberts, eight or ten times more numerous than those 
opposed to them, acted after the fashion of an army of game 

On February 18, General Cronje, not having retired soon 
enough or quickly enough towards the east with his 4,500 
Boers, was surrounded near Paardeburg Drift, on the Modder 
River, by the divisions of Lord Roberts. 

The investment of the Boer camp was completed at noon. 
The English should have confined themselves on this day to a 
general and methodical tightening of their lines; but their 
division commanders, breaking away from superior authorit}^ 
thought they were doing well in pushing their attacks home, 


each on his own account, at what appeared to him to be the 
most favorable moment. I'hese partial attacks withered under 
the Boer fire and caused considerable losses without the least 

We see in this, as in other cases, that the Eng-lish generals, 
as well as their troops, knew Init one method of Hghting, the 
decisive attack. 

This bloody affair of February 18 is the last in which the English sought to force a posi- 
tion by employing the old methods. 

The author would have better said tlieir old methods, for in 
other European armies the " decisive attack" was not, as with 
the English, the Alpha and Omega of tactics. 

After the capitulation of Cronje (Februar}^ 27, 1900), the 
investing troops, strength about 45,000 men, of whom 12,000 
were mounted, with a strong force of artillery, took up their 
march across the veldt under the skillful direction of Lord 
Roberts, and adopted a method of approach well suited to the 

The 4,000 or 5,000 Boers whom they could possibly meet 
in position on the kopjes scattered over the plain, knew how 
to use lire action only, to the exclusion of all maneuvers. 

Besides, it was advantageous to move deployed on a large 
front, so much the more as the movement w^as directed on 
Bloemfontein, capital of the Orange Free State, and it was 
therefore certain that the Boers would interpose themselves 
between this town and the invading force. 

According to the author, the front covered was often over 
20 kilometers. 

The army corps advanced in line of brigades, and each of 
these (8 in number) covered a front of 2 to 3 kilometers, 
counting intervals, and an equal depth. 

To change from the marching formation to that of attack, 
it sufficed to increase the intervals between the different ele- 

The advance guard was formed of mounted troops, with 
light artillery. 

According to the author, the four battalions composing the English infantry brigade 
formed a sort of open double column, each battalion having its eight companies in column 
at 100 meters distance, and in each com.pany the men in one rank with three or four paces 
interval. Each brigade column was so formed as to be numerically superior to any 
enemy it could meet. 

At ten to one this condition was easy to obtain. 


The author also saj^s that on such a large front (20 kilo- 
meters or more) the cohamns meeting the enemy in position 
stopped and opened fire at long range, while those not finding 
an enemy in their front continued to advance and then closed 
in on the enemy's rear. 

We could have deduced this fact ourselv^es. 

The means employed by Lord Roberts to dislodge the enemy 
during the march on Bloemfontein, and later on Pretoria, were 
ingenious and perfecth^ adapted to the requirements of the 
situation. One can but praise this general for having cast 
away the forms of war in use in European armies and adopt- 
ing in their place others inspired by the nature of the country 
and the tactics of the Boers. 


The author of the article in the Revue des Deux Mondes 
borrowed extensively from the personal notes of an officer 
whom he designates by the modest title of ''Eyewitness." 

These extracts are of great interest, because they describe 
with a strong tone of sincerity the events personally seen. 

During the march from Paardeburg on Bloemfontein Gen- 
eral French commanded the advance guard, consisting of 1 
division (3 brigades) of cavalry, 1 division (2 brigades) of 
mounted infantry, 7 batteries of horse artillery, and several 
sections of machine guns. 

This advance guard, more or less divided, preceded the 
army by 15 to 20 kilometers. It is this, and this alone, that 
is referred to in the following lines: 

Generally the task of making the frontal attack fell to the mounted infantry. It dis- 
mounted under cover at about 2,000 meters, and leaving the horses here formed lines of 
skirmishers and tried to take advantage of cover. 

The assailants could not, in general, advance to within less than 800 meters, at which 
distance the enemy's fire became extremely effective, due to absence of smoke and the 
denuded character of the country. 

It seemed that at about 800 meters there was a barrier almost insurmountable. 

In an open country every rifle has a distance called that of 
"'efi'ective fire," which depends on the curve of its trajectory. 

This distance with the 18 mm. gun, spherical bullet, was from 
150 to 200 meters. 

It reached 300 meters with the same gun, when rifled and 
using truncated projectiles expanded by a hollow in their rear 


In 1870 the ran^e of effective fire varied from 350 to 450 
meters, and it would have been 500 meters if the Germans had 
not had a greater interest in approaching to 400 meters on 
account of their weapon (the dreyse) having a trajectory much 
more curved than that of the French chassepot. 

If this war had been fought with the rifle model 1874, using 
metallic cartridges, the range of effective fire would have been 
600 meters. 

With the rifle now in use in most armies the range of effect- 
ive fire should be from 700 to 800 meters, and the experience 
of the South African war goes to confirm this theoretical 
deduction, which is sustained, besides, by firing on the range. 

It is at this range that one can reasonabl}^ hope to obtain 
and hold a superiority of tire, when this is considered neces- 

It goes without saying that the effectiveness of fire increases 
from 700 or 800 meters as the distance grows smaller, and this 
distance is considered the closest to which a body of skirmish- 
ers, sheltered or lying down, can push an attack under trul}^ 
effective tire without exposing themselves to ruin. 

Save in the case of obstacles or cover assisting the advance 
in the zone under 800 meters, infantr}^ skirmishers could not 
then advance in this zone unless the fire of the enemj^ was 
more or less checked by opposing artillery or infantry, or b}" 
the combined fire of both these arms. 

The formation adopted to advance through the zone 2000-800 meters was in one rank 
at 3 or 4 paces interval, without supports or reserves. Everybody was in line. Besides, 
it was not sought on this portion of the field to produce a violent effect. They counted 
on the action of the wings, the effect of the artillery, finally on the arrival of the main 
body. They sought, above all, to gain time, and often the close of the day closed the 
attack before they had reached the threshold of the 800-meter zone. 

The mounted troops under General French were divided 
into three parts — the center, very much scattered with a view 
to the advance-guard action, destined to reconnoiter and find 
the limits of the enemy's position; the wings, concentrated 
out of sight of the enemy for the purpose of acting against 
his flanks, once these had been found by that portion of the 
advance guard acting against his front. 

This was a judicious disposition, provided that the advance 
guard as a whole was numerically superior to the eneni}", and 
that the enemy always remained chained to his position. 

Against a stationary enemy anything could be dared save 
premature frontal attacks. 


The advance was made by rushes from one shelter to another. Open ground was 
shunned, not only when stationary, but also when advancing. 

The battles of the war of 1870-71 show on the German side 
methods of approach identical with those here described. 

The advance was made by groups more or less strong from 
cover to cover, excluding all formality, the end to be attained 
dictating the means to be employed. 

Almost all the officers got into the habit of sending forward to the next cover non- 
commissioned officers or good men, while they themselves superintended the movements 
of their command. The contagion of example has always been a resort more powerful 
for moving men forward than an impulse from the rear. 

This practice is not a new one. It was in use for some time, 
and no doubt continues to be used in one of our army corps 
that we could mention, with the difference that here the chiefs 
of section move forward themselves to the next cover and 
then signal their men to join them. 

The English method seems preferable because it allows the 
officer to watch the laggards, always the same. 

The line of skirmishers, as formed in the beginning, did not hesitate to change form 
under the influence of the cover. The cover ruled the intervals and fixed the form of 
the line of battle. 

The influence of cover has been described also by officers of 
infantry, both French and German, in all the battles of 1870-71. 

The contact action now holds the enemy in front. The action of the artillery occupies 
his wings. The enemy does not move. The enveloping movement will occupy a con- 
siderable extent of time. 

This contact action is nothing but the advance-guard action 
as we know it, and in this case simple mixed patrols would 
have sufficed, since the enemy really held himself. 

The action of the horse artillery on the two wings was due 
to the fact that the batteries were systematically divided be- 
tween the two groups of cavalry or mounted infantr}^ formed 
behind the wings of the central group charged with the exe- 
cution of the frontal attack. 

When this action appeared ripe the flank groups, moving 
b}^ platoons, marched under cover until opposite the enemy's 
flanks, reunited, dismounted, and formed tactical units, which 
took position on the flanks to open a musketry fire. 

At this moment the day generally came to a close and the 
Boers, seeing themselves flanked, commenced to beat a retreat. 

The pursuit was confined to a few shells fired at the convoy. During this time the 

frontal attack (advance-guard action against the front) had regulated its advance on the 

retirement of the enemy, in place of precipitating their retreat by a decided offensive 


* ****** 


As an excuse for this slowness in pursuit there has Ijeen lirouglil forward the state of 
fatigue of men and horses on the ai)proach of night. In reality it was due to nervous 
exhaustion. The nervous tension caused by danger jiroduces such i)hysi(;al fatigue that 
some men who have not moved all day, but who have been subjected for long hours to a 
fusillade, are incapable of any effort. With modern arms this tension is greater than for- 
merly, and the resulting depression is also greater. 

It is fully conceded that the English troops employed in the 
frontal attack, long submitted to an effective rifle lire, should 
have been too much fatigued to have thrown themselves on the 
enemy in retreat; but the other troops, detached on the flanks, 
and whose action had been as short as it was recent, why 
should they not have pursued the enemy 'i 

It was because, having left their horses far in rear, the 
flank -ti-oops were incapable of all rapid movement. 

This statement is suflicient to condemn the method which 
required the whole strength of cavalr}^ to dismount, even 
when, due to peculiar circumstances, ' its principal function 
was fire action. 

We come now to the phenomenon of nervous exhaustion in 
the case of the mounted infantry engaged in the frontal 
attack, who were exposed for several hours to a tire at dis- 
tances around 800 meters. 

This state of the nerves is well known, and officers who took 
part in the battles of the Franco-Prussian war remember hav- 
ing observed in their men, when they were heavily engaged 
at the range of efi'ective tire of the time (about -iOO meters), a 
mental and physical depression, increasing with the length of 
the action. 

In such circumstances the soldier is as if chained to the 
ground, and if he fires at all it is due to the instinct of self- 
preservation, which incites him to kill to avoid being killed. 

The South African war teaches us nothing in particular on 
this subject, but it shows that the range of efi'ective fire has 
reached the point of 800 meters to-day in place of 400 meters 
as it was in 1870. 

This statement of the doubling of the range of efi'ective fire 
permits us to sa}^ that attacks insufficiently prepared and whose 
objectives have been unskillfully chosen will give rise to 
shambles more bloody and not less useless than formerly. 

The art of superior command will be more delicate and 
more difficult certainly. 

But does one not see in all branches of human activity the 
perfection of tools demanding more skillful workmen? 


If the modern law of division of labor results in developing- 
to the extreme in the artisan the power of thought necessary 
for the execution of his task, it requires much more skill to 
properl}^ direct an industrial, agricultural, or commercial 
establishment, and still more to properly command a large 
unit of the three arms called to fight not only against material 
difficulties, but most of all against an enemy provided with 
the most effective means of action. 

The phenomena of psycho-ph^^sical depression, already 
noted in 1870-71 and in 1877-78 among skirmishers fighting- 
at the range of effective fire, can not fail to be accentuated in 
the future with a reduction in the length of active service and 
on account of the absence of smoke, which renders objectives 
almost invisible and often causes bullets to fall apparently 
from space. 

This highly important fact acts in favor of progressive and 
sparing action of the infantry units in the first line. 

We will be led, we think, to withdraw from the action 
some units which have been subjected to a heavy fire when 
they can be replaced by fresh units. ^' 

Infantry engaged for several hours will, in fact, have lost 
all combative power, and will be only a demoralizing element 
for the reenforcements which come to them. 

It must be said, in conclusion, that in order to continue a 
frontal attack all day, or perhaps even for several consecutive 
days, the echelon of troops from front to rear, otherwise called 
the perpendicular order, is more necessary than ever, and is 
opposed to the extension of front, which seems at first sight 
to be required by the perfection of our weapons. 

This action of the mounted troops forming numerous advance guards often sufficed 
to open the way for the infantry divisions; but it often happened that it did not bring 
the required result, either because the enemy held his ground too well or because the 
line of defense was of too great an extent. 

The eyewitness from whom the preceding lines are taken 
does not hesitate to employ the term ''advance guard" for 
designating the light troops charged with reconnoitering the 
enemy, holding him in front, and even sometimes maneuver- 
ing against his flanks. 

«This was done in several cases in the war of 1870, notably with the 
Prussian Eighth Corps August 18 at the farm of Saint-Hubert, and on 
the eastern border of the valley of the Mance. 


The author himself has for the words "advance guard" an 
extreme dislike, for which we are unable to account. 

The notes of the eyewitness then describe the deployment 
of the army, preceded b}^ oblique movements of the wing 
columns, the going- into action of the artillery, the march of 
approach, the entrance into the zone of artillery fire (between 
4,000 and 3,000 meters), and lastly the arrival at 2,000 meters 
from the enemy. 

At this distance the wounded could still be gathered and removed, and mounted offi 
cers could remain with their commands. 

At about 1,500 meters the attacking party opened fire. The fire was at will, lying, using 
the magazine. In order to move as little as possible, the men learned to load while lying 
face down. 

The opening of fire marked a slackening in the progress of the attack. As soon as the 
advance was resumed, anything became a pretext for halting and firing again — officers or 
men wounded, favorable shelter, halting of neighboring companies, etc. 

Let us not forget that we are on the veldt, an immense 
prairie, broken at intervals by ranges of kopjes. 

Despite this unfavorable condition for the approach, we 
can not praise the English infantry for having opened fire at 
1,500 meters from the enemy. 

To-day, as in the time of Marshal Bugeaud, "to open a long- 
range fire is the act of poor infantry." 

To open fire at long range it is necessary to fire at a dis- 
tance much greater than the range of effective fire, which 
from 200 meters in 1860 increased, at least in France, to 400 
meters in 1867, to 600 meters in 1874, and to 800 meters in 

In each battalion the necessity of taking part in the fire and not continuing to submit 
to losses without attempting to inflict some in return, brought on the firing line the com- 
panies in rear. Thus the columns deployed without special orders to do so. The arrival 
of a fresh company did not cause a forward movement, because the newcomers, impelled 
to seek shelter and open fire, stopped at the same obstacles which held the first line. 

The same phenomena were observed in 1870-71 with the 
Germans on the offensive. 

At this time, already far in the past, the companies in 
reserve, when they could not obtain shelter and found them- 
selves exposed to fire directed at the first line, had a strong 
tendency to join the firing line and take part in the fire. 

The arrival of a fresh company on the firing line sometimes 
caused an advance movement, but not always; and, in our 
opinion, our Regulations of 1875 and 1884 should not have 
required absolutely that every reinforcement of the firing 
line should be the signal for another rush forward. 


To return to the English. The frequent halts of their fir- 
ing line between 1,500 and 1,000 meters did not give evidence 
of a very strong offensive spirit. What would have hap- 
pened if the Boers could have made use of numerous rapid- 
iire guns? 

To go to the bottom of the matter, the English soldiers 
were not animated by a true fighting spirit, but fought merely 
as a professional duty, seeking above all to preserve their 
precious existence. In each battle the losses among the offi- 
cers, out of all proportion to those of their men, showed like- 
wise that the soldiers lacked keenness. 

The four rear companies of each battaUon were held 500 meters in rear. They formed 
line deployed in one rank, occupying a front equal to that of the firing line. 

The English battalion being composed of eight companies 
of about 100 men each, its firing line of four companies in one 
rank should have measured from 300 to 100 meters. 

In all formations of approach or combat it was merely a 
question of subdivisions marching by the flank or in Indian 
file. This fact is well to remember. 

The reserves were held at 1,500 or 2,000 meters from these companies; the battalions 
composing fhem kept their marching formation in column of companies deployed in 
one rank with intervals. But the distance between companies changed unceasingly, 
giving the impression of an accordeon, regulated by the accidents of the ground. In 
directing their fire (artillery) on this formation, the enemy's gunners ought to have been 
disconcerted by the instability of the target, rendered still more difficult of definition by 
the khaki uniforms, blending exactly with the color of the veldt. 

This open-woven human carpet presented throughout its extent an equally slight vul. 
nerability. No part attracted special attention, and the division of the objective, reduced 
to the state of human powder, caused a dispersion and reduced the effect of the enemy's 

We must not forget the special conditions under which the 
English made their march across the veldt. 

In the first place the enemy was ten times less in number 
than the invading force. In the second place its action was 
one of purely passive defense, without any maneuvers what- 
ever. Finall}^, its artillery was reduced to a few guns, scat- 
tered singly over a large area. 

To be sure. Lord Roberts solved the problem by diminishing 
his losses to a minimum, but he did so at the price of breaking- 
all the bounds of tactics and scattering his men to the point 
of reducing them to " human powder." 

It is told that at the brigade maneuvers commanded by the 
German Emperor, the 29th of May last, on the field of Tem- 
pelhof, there was an occurrence that does not lack interest. 


The advance guard battalion had taken th(^ approach forma- 
tion, called b}^ antithesis Boer stu7vn, which consists in placing 
the four companies deplo3^ed as skirmishers, one behind the 
other, at 100 or 150 meters distance. 

It is reall}^ the formation of the English on the veldt. 

Everything was going well, when, in the coui'se of the 
march of approach, the l)attalion w^as attacked in Hank by 
several squadrons debouching by surprise from a fold of the 

The cavalry rode freely through the spaces between com- 
panies, and it was decided that they had received in all one 
dozen bullets. In reality, they would have overturned the 
rows of skirmishers like rows of cards. 

On this occasion, if William II wished to give the officers 
of his guard a good practical lesson, he completel}^ succeeded. 
This shows besides that our neighbors in the east have an eye 
open to the tactical methods in use abroad, even when they 
are of a very special character, and that they do not hesitate 
to put them into practice, discarding them if the}^ do not 
satisfy the conditions of war in Europe. More important 
occurrences took place at Doberitz; they will be discussed 

It the second line sought safety in its formation, the tirst line sought it above all in the 
terrain. The cover took all symmetry from the line, ruled the intervals between groups, 
and the density of the skirmishers. Squads, sections, entire companies, gathered behind 
them, according to their size. They had an irresistible attraction for the men. 

The use of cover was greatty developed in the actions and 
battles of 1870-71, as shown in the numerous French and 
German monographs published immediately after the war. 

Once the action was started, one could see nothing but 
flashes and a little smoke, because the skirmishers on both 
sides were hidden behind cover or lying flat. 

The fighting lines were not visible except during a partial 
or general attacking movement. It is evident that the use of 
cover on the firing line will have a greater importance in the 
future as cannon and rifles become more powerful. 

This formation (of attack) was continued up to a zone which by an instinctive em- 
pirism, founded on certain indications, was estimated at about 1,000 or 800 meters from 
the enemy. 

These indications, which, lacking a visible enemy, guided in the estimation of this 
distance, were the following: 

Every collective movement on the firing line caused the enemy's fire to be redoubled. 

The Mauser rifle, 7 mm., using a clip, with which the Boers 
were provided, is an extremely powerful weapon, which per- 


mits an overwhelmingly effective fire being obtained at a dis- 
tance of 1,000 to 800 meters against a target very much 
restricted; but the acute vision of the Boers was a highly im- 
portant factor, and it can be believed that European riflemen 
could not have done as well. 

One can conceive that the rifle could be perfected to such a 
degree that at the distance of a thousand meters, for example, 
it would permit a tire against a little group of three or four 
men Ijdng down, with the same probability of hitting as to-day 
at 400 meters with the rifle in service; but could a European 
rifleman, taken from an agricultural village or industrial town, 
see such a small object at 1,000 meters? 

At 800 meters commenced the last act of the battle. The groups which had in front 
of them an open country halted, submitted to the enemy's fire, and watched what took 
place on their flanks. * * * On the contrary, those who could obtain broken country 
or one affording cover, continued to advance. The advance in the zone under 800 
meters is the hardest problem to be solved. From the moment of beginning the action 
in this zone the cover favored the different groups unequally. Some would find them- 
selves unexpectedly close to the enemy, while others were still far off. The firing line 
then took on sinuosities, which put it at the same time at 400, 600, 800, 500 meters * * * 
from the line of defense. 

This is the wrj the offensive action against the enemy's 
front should be conducted: A continuous advance of the ele- 
ments of the first line to the limit of cover nearest the enemy, 
for the purpose of holding him, demoralizing him by inflict- 
ing loss, and thus preparing for the action of fresh troops 
charged with breaking down his resistance at some chosen 

The idea of a frontal attack has become familiar to most offi- 
cers, thanks to the works of certain writers (not to offend the 
author of the article in the Reime des Deux Mondes) ; in this 
case they had the most happy results. 

This kind of fighting excludes all formality; the important 
thing is to place guns to saturation behind every bit of cover 
afforded by the terrain, leaving the open spaces empty or at 
most occupying them with small parties, held at least 800 
meters from the enenw. 

The various officers who have taken part in these approaching actions affirm that their 
direction is absolutely lost to the generals and superior officers. Their direction rests on 
the initiative of inferior officers and soldiers, accidentally guided by the signals or 
example of subalterns. 

This was a fact even in the battles of 1870, and if the ''eye- 
witness" author of the notes we are anal3^zing thought he was 
Vjringing forward something new he was mistaken. 

The role of generals and superior officers is not to direct the 


action of skirmishers properly speaking; this is the work of 
captains and lieutenants. 

A body of infantr}^ in action loses all higher direction, and 
is incapable of any maneuver save advance or retreat. 

On the other hand, this body becomes enfeebled, consumex 
Itself Yery rapidly, and its power of action would very soon 
become nil if measures were not taken to reenforce it by 
means of fresh troops coming as it were to infuse new blood 
in its veins. 

This is where the higher officers as well as the generals 
intervene for the proper use of supports and reserves. 

Their intervention in an action of skirmishers is limited to 
" nourishing," and yet in this way they exercise considerable 
intluence over the results of the action. 

In this violent action each man carries his life in his hand, and applies himself chiefly 
to taking cover. He does not fire except when under cover. When he is near enough 
to the enemy to catch a glimpi^e of him during the brief moment of a rush at full speed, 
he gives little thought either to his oflticers or to his neighbors. He does not desire any 
reenforcement, which will cause an increase in the enemy's fire. The quality of his 
cover is of more importance than anything else; it renders the. man stationary, but ren- 
ders him also less accessible to the impressions which might cause him to beat a retreat. 
In fact, he is conscious that whether he leaves his cover to advance or retire, the dan- 
ger will be the same. This sticking to cover, especially at short ranges, was a constant 
factor with which commanders had to reckon. 

The perfect egoism of the English soldier, which is a char- 
acteristic of his race, accords well with the foregoing lines. 

Certainly the English soldier has shown in this war, as he 
did in those of a century ago in Spain, great bravery, allied 
with much sang-froid and tenacit}^ But he is above all an 
individualist, and this quality, excellent in commerce, is not so 
good in war, which requires great self-abnegation. 

The Russian motto, " Perish, but save your brothers," will 
never be agreed to, much less put in practice, by the English. 

The French skirmisher would be happy over the arrival of 
reenforcements, even if this provoked an increase in the ene- 
my's fire, for in this he would see a sign of success. 

The English soldier takes the unique view that any reen- 
forcement will cause him to run into greater danger. 

In the different frontal actions it was always the initiative of certain groups of skir- 
mishers that brought success. 
In any case it was not brought by a push from the rear. 

On the veldt the Boers, numbering 10,000 to 12,000, de- 
fended, successively, lines of kopjes often 20 kilometers in 


It is not surprising, then, that certain English groups should 
have been able to force the enemy's line at some point or other, 
and by either irruption in the position cause the retreat of 
groups near the positions taken— a retreat which gained by de- 
grees the entire line of defense. 

The success in the frontal attack having been gained by 
the skirmishers alone, independently of the superior com- 
manders, who had not seen, much less pointed out, the points 
to be attacked, the impulses coming from the rear could not 
have gained the victory. 

The situation would be entirely different in a battle with 
well-organized European troops. Here, partial successes by 
a few groups of skirmishers would have no effect on the 
whole, and in order to win it would be necessary, as in the past, 
to make a very energetic and well-sustained attack on the 
enemy's entire line and to combine frontal attacks with one or 
more attacks on the section chosen by the superior commander; 
attacks operating by surprise, and provided with means greatly 
superior to those with which the enemy could oppose them. 

It often happened that the intervention of troops, up to that time more or less out of 
action, appearing unexpectedly on the field, decided the fate of the day. 

The flanks of the enemy served as an objective and might thus find themselves 
between two fires. 

The surprise attack on the enemy's flank is one of the most 
favorable conditions of success. The English had recourse to 
it as often as they were able. It was not difficult for them on 
account of their enormous numerical superiorit3^ 

The irruption was made often on an entirely different point, as the flank. It was of 
the greatest importance that the troops should be able to advance under cover from fire, 
preserving intact their enthusiasm and force of action. 

That which determined the direction of their march and their objective was not any 
peculiarity of the line of defense, but simply the direction and locality of the mouth of 
the topographical depression which had favored their approach. Thus the issue of the 
battle was often the result of an incident of the action in place of being brought about 
by a series of converging efforts and increasing energy directed by the superior com- 

The essential condition of all decisive attacks is that the 
troops charged with their execution arrive in full possession 
of their powers at a short distance from the point to be taken, 
which causes us to say again that these troops, alread}^ covered 
by the frontal action, ought to find in the terrain particularly 
favorable facilities of approach. 

If we have followed the sense of the above text, the English 
troops in the second line, finding in their advance a covered 


way, went into it as water runs into a riv^er and followed its 
windings to its end, a short distance from the eneni}^ and 
from here made a surprise attack on the nearest part of t/he 
enem3^'s line. 

The celebrated riding master Baucher often repeated, 
"Spurs are like a razor in the hands of a monke}^," and 
advised mediocre riders to remove their spurs before mount- 
ing a horse. 

Generals who do not know how to organize, prepare, and 
then to launch a decisive attack at the proper moment and in 
the proper direction ought to have the sense to renounce this 
very perilous mode of action. This was what was done by the 
English generals during the second phase of the campaign. 

After having totally ignored in the first part of the war the 
advantages of an attack such as we have described, and having 
brought on themselves grave misfortunes by their headstrong 
attacks made without judgment, the same generals later aban- 
doned the reins to their troops and contented themselves with 
assisting at long range in a soldier's fight. 

Against the Boers, fighting one to ten, such errors could 
not bring serious consequences to the English, and they had 
the advantage of limiting their losses to a minimum, but it is 
not necessary to make regulations for applying such simple 
methods to European battlefields. 

Everyone knows what such practices lead to when the 
enem}^ is well organized, instructed, and commanded. 

The combination of a frontal attack with an attack on the flank, or a sudden irruption 
on some other point, should not be considered as sure to bring success to the offensive. 
It has been remarked, in fact, that as soon as the enemy can turn to face these new 
attacks they are transformed into frontal attacks, and soon find themselves paralyzed. 

That is a truth as old as the art of war. 
A flank attack or a central attack has no chance to succeed 
unless one or both of the following conditions are fulfilled: 

1. An attack by surprise, barring the intervention at an 
opportune time of the enemy's reserves. 

2. The use of very superior means, artillery, infantry, 
sometimes even cavalry, against the point of attack; means 
such that the enemy shall be powerless to reestablish an 
equilibrium at this point. 



As we have commented on the extracts from the notes of 
the "eyewitness," we will not analyze the conclusions drawn 
from the same by the article in the Revue des Deux Mondes. 

We shall, however, examine a few of his conclusions. 

The author, taking his desire for a fact, attributes to a 
majorit}^ of the English officers a flow of ideas which led them 
to change from bottom to top the tactics now in use in European 

We do not believe that the greater part of the English offi- 
cers were capable of reasoning on a question so deep, since 
their military education has until very lately been to a great 
extent neglected. 

Let us examine a few of the principal reforms extolled by 
the author. 

The action of masses, in use at the beginning of the nineteenth century and now held 
in honor in the greater part of the armies of Europe, is going to find itself replaced by 
the action of screens and the combined action of numerous mixed columns. 

We must suppose that the author was unlucky in his choice 
of expressions, and that his meaning was that the action of 
masses will be replaced by the action of screens obtained by 
means of the combined operations of numerous mixed columns. 

In other words, the author seems to wish to divide the large 
advance guards of former times into a large number of small 
mixed advance guards, destined to act against the entire extent 
of the enemy's line. 

Thus restricted, the author's views would not be excessive 
and would only show a tendency justified to a certain extent 
by the power of the present armament. 

But if masses give place to advance guards (or screens), 
during the period of the frontal attack, as they have done for 
a century in well-commanded armies, their action will not be 
the less indispensable in deciding the issue. 

Premature generalization belongs to superficial minds, and 
to manufacture hard and fast rules for European warfare 
from the experiences of the South African war would be to 
apply to everything, great and small, the treatment required 
by some particular case. 
17432—05 7 


The power of the rifle and the invisibility of the enemy render the enemy's front 
difficult to take by assault. 

During" the war of 1870-71 such frontal attacks were always 
repulsed by lire, with heavy loss to the assailant. 

It is sufficient to recall the following repulses: 

(a) On the morning of August 6, 1870, at the battle of 
Worth, the advance guards of the Second Bavarian Corps, 
Fifth and Eleventh Prussian Corps. 

(h) On August 16. at 4.30 p. m., the Thirty-eighth Prussian 
Infantry Brigade. 

(c) On August 18, the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Corps of 
the Prussian Guard during their attenipLs to break the line 
of defense. 

(d) On January 13 and 14, 1871, during the numerous 
French attacks on the defense of the Lisaine. 

To-day, much more than formerl}^, the enemy's line should 
be approached with ever}^ precaution, allowing all the time 
necessary, and proceeding more by a galling fire pushed for- 
ward more and more, than by the use of great force. 

Victory should be sought in a combination of fire-action on the enemy's front and 

Musketry fire has never sufficed to cause the retreat of brave 
troops when they were well commanded. 

To force the enemy to evacuate his position, it is abov^e all 
necessar}^ that the attacking infantry should approach to 
assaulting distance. At this moment the enemy sees himself, 
under pain of a hand-to-hand encounter, obliged to leave his 
cover long enough to fire; it is then that the artiller}^ crushes 
the defense by its rafales killing, wounding, or dispersing 
him, and thus opening the way for its infantry. The envel- 
oping maneuver hastens the decision of the action, since its 
efi'ect is to take the enemy's flank between two fires. This 
fact is as old as war itself. 

The author then considers the case in which the defender, 
foreseeing the envelopment which menaces him, sends his 
troops to meet those of the assailant. The latter, not finding 
an uncovered flank, are obliged to make a frontal attack on 
the line improvised by the defense and, as the author says, 
''are driven to seek a decision in a frontal attack." 


In this frontal attack, numerical superiority is no longer a decisive factor. This factor 
rests mainly on approaching movements, carefully defiladed, and protected by the com- 
bined fire of artillery and infantry. 

Hence, when the attacking party must depend on its own fire, the individual bravery 
of the soldier, who exercises initiative and courage freely and without possible control, 
becomes the factor of success. 

Hence, more choice of the principal point of attack; more 
previous maneuvers to unite at the chosen point the troops of 
the three arms, designated to strike the decisive blow; more 
complete preparation of the attack; more nothing but soldiers 
who exercise freely their initiative and courage. But we are 
promised the '' Golden age of generals ^ Our infantr}^ did not 
light otherwise at Alma, at Inkerman, at Magenta, at Sol- 
ferino, and it was victorious. Unfortunately, events took on 
another color when the affair occurred with the Prussians in 

At this time the bravery and initiative of the French soldier 
no longer sufficed, and in our army we were forced to believe 
that the commanders of all grades, when strong leaders, exer- 
cised a preponderant influence over the results of a battle. 

After this war our corps of officers set to work with the 
hope of equaling, if not surpassing, its ancient adversaries; 
and thanks to its sustained efforts its progress has been patent 
even to the dullest. To-da\^, on the pretext that the second 
part of the South African war caused the adoption by the 
English of certain methods of lighting adapted to the excep- 
tional conditions of battle, some wish to revolutionize our 
methods instead of perfecting them by evolution wisely con- 
ducted; they seem not to see that in acting thus they risk 
confusing the mind and causing a halt in the movement which 
has operated for fifteen years in favor of unity of doctrine. 

Very happily nothing can prevail against common sense, 
and it will be with the theories of the author as with all purel}^ 
theoretical products — the military organization will positively 
refuse to assimilate them, as it has always done. 

The cavalry still remains the arm for rapid enveloping movements, pursuits, and the 
rear guard. 

The author uses the term "rear guard," while he has a 
horror of the term "advance guard." Could it be that he 
foucc difficulty in obtaining the opposite of the word 
"screen" (rideau), which he affects so much? 


Its importance has been increased, but its mode of action has been completely changed. 
The time of great charges has passed. It was so already in 1870. Those made at this 
time on both the French and German sides resulted in nothing but useless hecatombs. 

On the contraiy, we think that the wars of the future will 
see great cavalry charges, even against infantry or artillery, 
and that the result of these charges will depend almost entirely 
on the bravery of the chiefs who command them. 
! In every battle one sees troops grow weak at some stage of 
the action. If at such a time a mass of cavalry could strike 
like a bird of prey infantry or artiller}^ more or less demoral- 
ized or lacking ammunition, it would gather laurels without 
exposing itself to great danger. 

What would have become of the infantry of the French 
Second Corps on August 16, 1870, when, after the loss of 
Vionville and Flavigny, it was forced by the German artillery 
lire to flee in disorder, if the German Sixth Division of 
Cavalry had found itself where it should have been and had 
charged at the proper time on the fugitives? 

The Germans recognized the failings of their cavalry gen- 
erals in 1870, and have made the greatest efforts for a long 
time to develop in their higher officers and generals the veiy 
rare qualities of a cavalry leader. 

Even in 1870, despite the statement of the author, certain 
cavalry charges were not mere hecatombs. On August 16, 
Bredow's charge and that of the First Prussian Dragoon 
Guards completely attained the result sought; also, on the 
same da}^ the charges on the Yron Plateau were not useless, 
for they helped to stop the offensive action of the Ladnii- 
rault Corps, so dangerous for the German left wing. 

A troop of cavalry, even the smallest, can no longer appear in close order in the zone 
of artillery, and still less in the zone of infantry fire. 

This Avas true in 1870; but the impossibility of cavahy 
remaining in range in sight of artillery or infantry did not 
hinder its use for proper purposes, which are to reconnoiter the 
enemy's flanks, protect the flanks of its own army, watch the 
large open intervals in the line, and take part in the action when 
an opportunit}^ presents itself; the terrain of central Europe 
being more or less broken, there was no field of battle which 
did not offer masks capable of covering the cavalry units at a 
short distance behind the troops engaged. 


The reconnaissance being stopped at a great distance by the long range and rapidity 
of a fire, the origin of which can not be told exactly, all that can be known is the points 
at which the enemy has not been found at a stated time. « 

Numerous reconnoitering bodies covering a large front, 
who receive a fire at long range without being able to return 
it effectively, not being able to determine its origin exactly, 
nevertheless mark the location and extent of the enemy's posi- 
tion, '^coasting along his dangerous zone," to use the author's 

It has never entered anybody's head, even so far back as 
1870, to allow the reconnaissance of cavalry to enter the 
meshes of a system of mixed outposts when the lattter are 
well posted. 

It is in operating on the flanks of an enemy marching or in 
position that reconnaissances can hope, if they are well con- 
ducted, to get near enough to see strong columns or large 

But is it not of great importance to be able to coast along 
the dangerous zone of the whole extent of the line occupied 
either by the enemy's advance posts or by his main force ? 

Besides, this could not be accomplished except partially and 
by the use of great skill, if the enemy had a numerous and 
active cavalry keeping watch at a long distance around troops 
which it v/as charged with covering. 

According to the author the reconnaissance which Captain 
Gilbert has called "negative" is the only one which in this 
day can produce precise reports. The assertion is inexact, 
considering that in 1870, despite the fear inspired b}^ the 
chctssepot — a rapid-fire, long-range weapon — the reconnais- 
sances of the German cavalry, particularly from the 26th to 
the 31st of August, would often cut the line of march of the 
arm}^ of Chalons, locate its bivouacs, and furnish valuable 
reports to the General Staff'. 

It will be said in reply that the German cavalry had an easy 
task on account of the unlucky division of the French cavalry 
and its incapacity in the matter of reconnaissance. This is 
the truth, but in war the two adversaries are never equal, and 
the stronger or more skillful surpasses the other, without 
which there would be neither victor nor victory. 


This failure of the cavalry to justify the hopes pUiced on it in reconnaissance was so 
absohite that the other troops ceased to look for any security from thiti arm. 

The author handles sophism with an unexcelled dexterit3\ 
A short time ago he told us that "the reconnaissance was 
stopped at a great distance, and could only tell the points at 
which the enemy was not found." 

Now he sa3's that the failure of the cavalry "in reconnais- 
sance" resulted in taking from the other troops all confidence 
in the " role of security" confided to this arm. 

Failure of the cavalry. 

The term is harsh, besides it applies onh^ to English cavalr}^ 
operating against Boers — all horsemen and all extraordinary 

Every time that European cavalry has found itself opposed 
to a nation of horsemen it has had to give over reconnaissance 
duty to small detachments. This was so with the French cav- 
alry against the Cossacks in 1807, 1812, 1813, and 1811. It 
was so likewise in Algeria during the first years of the con- 
quest, until the time that natives rallying to the cause of 
France formed flying columns and relieved our cavalrv of the 
duty of reconnaissance. 

The author then states that the English cavalry, discarding 
its lances and even its sabres, took its carbine and became 
mounted infantry. Much good this did it. 

It would be necessary to see this cavalry operating in 
Europe according to the same principles. But we shall not 
see it, for the English have too good sense ever to do such a 

The artillery tried to combine the effect of their heavy guns and the rapid-tire pieces 
of the horse artillery. They sought to establish their batteries in a long line, making all 
their fire converge on a single point, so as to cause at the same time a direct and oblique 

The eyewitness whose notes we have analyzed says not a 
word of the artillery being established in a long line. On 
the contrary, he states that the batteries were established on 
the flanks when the advance guard operated at a long distance 
from the main body, and that the artiller}^ went into action 
either in the wings or in the intervals between battalions 
when the infantry divisions were engaged. 

On the other hand, the lessons that have been drawn from 
the South African war agree on the point that the English 
artillery, though always showing great bravery, often oper.- 


ated on its own account and in mass without appearing to 
suspect the existence of conditions which demanded on its 
part the preparation of an infantry attack. 

The systematic division of forces, of which the author seems 
to be an ardent apostle, denotes in him and in his co-religion- 
ists a state of mind which was manifested in the conduct of 
military affairs at the time of the Terror. 

The Itt armies of the Republic were deployed on the men- 
aced frontiers (they were all menaced), which they covered in 
a cordon, and in each army of 20,000 to 35,000 men the troops 
were likewise in cordon. 

To-day the screen replaces the cordon, but at bottom they 
are same thing — weakness throughout— and defeat insured, 
in case the enemy attacks at some single point chosen by him. 

In truth, the armies of the first coalition showed themselves 
so pusillanimous and acted with such weakness that at that 
time the French barely escaped dismemberment. 

The results obtained with heavy projectiles charged with lyddite (melinite) were 
very poor. 

That can be conceived, since the Boers never defended an 
inclosed area, being almost always hidden in deep trenches 
or behind rocks. 

On the contrarv, the effect of shrapnel was alwaj^s formi- 
dable. To return to the language used by the author: 

The projectiles of the English artillery had only a small effect. " Our shrapnel fright- 
ened the Boers but did not kill them," wrote Lord Methuen; "their bullets lacked 

In the quotations to follow, we can see more and more that 
the author has an imagination which causes him to take his 
own ideas for facts. 

The division of artillery has become the rule. 

We have discussed this before. 

Every body of infantry, however small, ought to be accompanied by cavalry to open its 
way, and by artillery to protect its march. 

On the field of battle in the second part of the South Afri- 
can war one does not find a trace of little columns of infantr\^ 
accompanied by cavalry or artillery, for the author is speak- 
ing of action in battle. 

It is different with flying columns, operating singh^ to sub- 
due the country and pursue groups of partisans. In this case 
they should be made up of elements of the three arms. 


The ancient axiom, " Fire draws fire," is now modified as follows: •' Visibility draws 

Certainly. But this is mere play upon words. 

The infantry can no longer fight except prone. 

The necessity for infantry to lie down was already apparent 
in 1870-71. 

The author then explains that for moving forward by crawl- 
ing or by rushes the soldier should be without knapsack, his 
only equipment being the haversack, the individual mess kit, 
and the blanket roll. 

At the battles of Spicheren, Wissemburg, Froeschwiller, 
Borny, Mars-la-Tour, and St. Privat, both French and Ger- 
mans fought without knapsacks. The several patrols of the 
Prussian Fifth Corps made prisoner during the battle of 
Froeschwiller were provided with the haversack, had the 
cloak across the shoulder, supporting at its lower part the mess 
kit, and wore a cap, the helmet being suspended by its chin 

Whatever may be desired, hotl}^ contested battles demand 
that the soldier shall be relieved of the heavy knapsack which 
he ordinarily carries. 

Hence the necessit}^ of a knapsack made in two parts, the 
one designed never to be removed from the soldier, the other 
susceptible of being loaded on the company wagons or some 
other vehicle. 

The author desires for our infantry a cartridge bandolier, a 
khaki uniform, and for a headdress a soft hat, the color of the 
ground, with broad brim raised on the left side. He even 
wishes bone buttons. 

The author very much approves of Lord Roberts arming 
the officers, even the captains, with rifles, and making their 
dress like their men's. 

With regard to a gaudy headdress, it occurs to us that after 
the war of 1870-71 our infantry officers were unanimous in 
demanding that the. red cap should be replaced by a blue one, 
on the ground that their men, when lying down as skirmish- 
ers, generally took the precaution to remove their caps, con- 
sidered by them as too distinctly visible, and laid them by 
their sides. 

In 1872 or 1873 boards were ordered convened to consider 
the question of replacing the red cap with the blue, and the}^ 
considered a long time. We are still waiting for their decision. 


The author has a horror for plumes, and does not hide his 
disdain for what he terms "military dandies." 

The uniform of his dreams is no doubt composed of a blouse 
to hide the leanness or deformity of the bod}^, and a broad- 
brimmed hat to shade the eyes. 

Provided with this outfit deformed or ugly men need not 
envy their more fortunate brethren, for one and all are 
equally horrible. 

Apropos, the "Voyage on the Rhine," by J. J. Weiss, 
contains a ver}^ amusing chapter which treats of the trials 
of an officer of Prussian hussars, and ends Avith the term 
"the unhappy hussar," something which would be truly a 
phenomenon in the French army of to-da3^ 

Some years before the war of 1870 a certain ministry, per 
haps very efficient, suppressed the elite companies, took the 
sabertache from the hussars, the patrol jacket from the cav- 
alry and artillery, gave the dragoons the tunic, and disbanded 
the cavalry and artillery bands. It showed poor knowledge 
of human nature. 

To bring their men on the line the officers made use of narrow formations, winding and 
deep. Often they used the Indian file because, they said, it is easier to make men follow 
their file leader than to direct themselves. 

To our knowledge none of the works compiled from the 
words or writings of English officers who took part in the 
South African war have mentioned narrow formations or 
Indian file in approaching the firing point. 

The English made their march of approach in successive 
lines of skirmishers and in no other way. 

At 1,000 meters a rifle ball will penetrate four men placed 
one behind another. 

This alone indicates that narrow formations or Indian file, 
though they may be permissible under long-range artillery 
fire, should not be used in a march exposed to musketry fire. 

The invisibility of the enemy was a new factor, hitherto unprovided for in the scheme 
of instruction of combatants. 

The Boers in their deep trenches were invisible at 1,000 
meters. This is an undeniable fact. But our soldiers are 
provided, and have been for a long time, with smokeless pow- 
der, so that the slight visibility of the enem}' at long and 
mean ranges has become familiar to them in maneuvers of 
opposing troops where blank cartridges were used. 


With the power of acceleration of fire conferred bj' repeating arms a single man firing 
rapidly produces the same eflfect as ten men firing normally, and it is impossible to tell 
the dift'erence. 

This assertion shows what error imagination can give rise 
to when it is not aided by experience. 

A soldier fires normally 6 or 7 shots a minute. According 
to the author the same soldier firing rapidly could fire 60 
shots a minute, or one shot each second. 

Now, it is a fact that by using the magazine or clip a skilled 
rifleman could fire a dozen shots a minute, and yet he would 
be out of ammunition after three or four minutes of such fire. 
All ofiicers of infantry know that. 

The author specifies the sticking to cover, and the tendency to remain stationary, as 
the two "great enemies which paralyze the action and weaken the courage of the com- 
batant," and he adds: 

"The moral education of the man and the technical education of the soldier are the 
two levers by which the combatant can be detached from cover and carried forward." 

Would he have the moral education of the man distinct 
from the technical education of the soldier? 

This would be a grave error of a psychological order. No; 
the soldier can not be made into twins. 

He joins his regiment with qualities and faults, which he 
possesses b}^ inheritance, and a little education, which he owes 
to his family and his teachers. 

From the day he enters the service his commanders strive 
to develop his good qualities, correct his faults, and teach 
him, outside of the necessary technical knowledge, love for 
his flag, devotion to his comrades, confidence in his com- 
manders, esprit de corps, emulation, and a desire to distinguish 
himself in war, even at the sacrifice of his life. 

The conception of the combination citizen-soldier belongs 
to the domain of metaphysics. It haunts the brains of ideal- 
ists, excited by a desire to found a social order purely rational, 
without taking into account heredity, traditions, and habits, 
which render every man the slave of the past. 

The author then draws the reader into an extended discus- 
sion of tactics, seeking to show that England, due solely to 
the fact that it draws its nourishment from beyond its bor- 
ders, is scarcely more powerful to-day than it was fifty years 

To prove this he sa3^s that with 240,000 English against 12,000 
Boers these disproportionate forces were in equilibrium. 


According to this, a Boer was equal to twenty English 
soldiers. This scarcely flatters "Tommy." 

In truth, the article of the Revue des Deux Mondes should 
have been written before the conclusion of peace, at a time 
when the author believed the South African war would last 

But after the month of October, 1900, the campaign was 
virtually ended. 

There follows a literary amplification of the old idea that in 
war "iron is as valuable as gold." 

Returning to tactics, the author says: 

We must take into account the fact that the present arms carry to its highest point the 
action of skirmishers in a new form, in which each soldier must act independently, and 
in the fullness of his individual will to meet the enemy and destroy him. 

This is a return to barbarism, pure and simple, with its 
hordes lacking organization, command, and discipline. 

And that is the ideal he offers us. Many thanks! 

The author then describes' the difficulties experienced at 
present in making good soldiers on account of the increasing 
prosperity of the people and the extreme intellectual refine- 
ment of men, and he cites in support of his statements the 
Chinese soldier, contemptuous of death and slow in combat; 
but what he forgets to sa}^ is that the same Chinese soldier 
who fled disgracefully under fire when commanded by an 
ignorant mandarin becomes a very brave soldier when he 
comes under the orders of a good European commander. 

To finish with the quotations from the author: 

Fear is an illness; like other illnesses it has its prevention. It consists (the prevention) 
in a methodical development of good physical qualities, of the will, and of energy, in 
the child and young man. 

According to this of reasoning, the mother of a family first, and the schoolmaster 
afterwards, should exercise a true priestly influence. The regiment is powerless to bring 
forth these qualities. 

The spirit of sacrifice is not acquired by theories in the study. Officers can only develop 
by technical instruction, and by guarding against diminishing under the pretext of dis- 
cipline, the initiative and individuality of the young man who has become a soldier. 

Fear is not an ordinary illness; for, being often of ances- 
tral origin, it is intimately connected with racial and famil}" 

Napoleon, who ought to know, wrote: 

Bravery is an innate quality; it can not be acquired. 

Officers who have led men under fire for the first time 
remember their surprise at the bearing of certain soldiers, 


entirely difi'erent from what it was before. This bull}- drops 
from sight and that despised weakling shines in the first rank. 

We do not mean by this that it is useless to develop force 
and address as well as energy and strength of will. 

These qualities help to increase a man's courage b}" the self- 
conlidence which they provoke; but the}' are powerless to 
manufacture courage when it is not present in the blood. 

The education of physical powers, energy, and will can 
evidently be commenced at an early age to the great profit of 
the race. 

In this respect English education ought to serve us as a 
model. But we are still far from it, despite the honorable 
attempts made recently in several directions by M. Demolins 
and his disciples. 

As a matter of fact most French mothers spoil their chil- 
dren, and schoolmasters, outside of their purely book teach- 
ing, have a marked repugnance for anything which savors of 
physical force. 

It is a merely Utopian theory, the attributing actually to a 
mother or a schoolmaster the exercise of the priestly influence 
of which the author speaks. 

Later, when the methods of education now in use are trans- 
formed entirely, we can hope for some success in the partici- 
pation of the university in the development of physical pow- 
ers and character in the child and young man. 

The gymnastic and shooting clubs would exercise a salutary 
influence on the youth of the land if the}^ were more numer- 
ous, or, above all, composed of better material; but the sons 
of the middle class disdain them, and the sons of the farmers 
care nothing for them. 

Actually, there is no medium so favorable for the physical 
and moral education of young France as the regiment, on 
condition that the oiBcers and noncommissioned officers are 
enthusiastic in their work and acquit themselves with the 
same zeal and competence that they attempt to inculcate in 

The author refuses to the regiment all educative mission, 
and makes this sally: 

The spirit of sacrifice is not acquired by theories in the study. 

Is the miserable method of theories in the study the only 
one he knows? 


The last phrase of the quotation from the Revue des Deux 
Mondes streng-thens the idea previously put forward by the 
author, under which the officer would be reduced to the sim- 
ple role of technical instructor. It is no longer desired that 
the officer shall exercise over his command an overwhelming 
influence, that he shall be its head and its heart, and the 
schoolmaster is now to be depended upon to make men capa- 
ble of braving death on the field of battle. 

But we well know that a tactical unit is useless without its 
chiefs, and that these chiefs can not command it under fire 
except on condition that it has been welded together phys- 
ically, morally, and technically in time of peace, and welded 
by themselves. 

For thirty -five 3^ears it has been admitted in France that 
the master of the Prussian Military School gained the battle 
of Sadowa. 

At the same time the idealogues, so numerous and so bla- 
tant in our country, conducted a campaign against what we 
now call militarism, saying that in case of war it would suf- 
fice, as in 1793, to strike the ground and armies would appear. 
To the discipline and automatic action of the Prussians they 
wished to oppose ''intelligent bayonets "and "ramparts of 

In spite of cultivating traditions one generation succeeds 
another without profiting b}^ its experiences, so much so that 
entirely Utopian theories condemned by facts reappear at fixed 
intervals and, far from being combated, meet a favorable 
reception from young men who are ignorant of a relatively 
recent past. 

To recapitulate, the article of the Revue des Deux Mondes 
of June 15, leans on a great number of observations made dur- 
ing the South African war, some discreet, others contestable, 
in an attempt to destroy the tactical doctrines founded on the 
campaigns of Napoleon, and more recently on those of the 
Franco-Prussian war. 

To these doctrines, almost perfect, the author opposes the 
"War of Screens," nourished b}^ numerous small mixed 

His method is simplicity itself; for this reason it ought to 
find favor with the ignorant. 


Our own conclusions, drawn from the South African war, 
are a little different: 

1. The almost complete absence of artillery on the Boer side, 
distorting the conditions of battle, prevents us from forming 
a precise idea of the appearance of action in a war between 
European powers. 

For instance, the march of approach of the troops of the 
English second line would have been very difficult, one can 
almost sa}^ impossible, in the face of fire from numerous rapid- 
fire batteries of artillery. 

2. The power of the present rifle increases the normal dis- 
tance of infantry action to about 800 meters, in place of 400 
meters, which it was in 1870, and 600 meters, which it would 
have been with the rifle model 1874. 

3. The slight visibility of the enemy, resulting from the use of 
smokeless powder and the extended emplo3mient of field forti- 
fication, renders the approach ver}" long and very laborious, 
with an increase of losses, and gives a much greater duration 
than formerly to engagements. 

4. The power of the present armament causes the advance 
guards to be split up, before the}^ are subjected to an effective 
artillery fire, into small parties destined to engage in the 
reconnoitering action, which spreads itself before the enem3"'s 
line and induces a wear-and-tear action over the entire front. 

5. The nervous exhaustion present always, but taking place 
more quickl}^ nowadays on account of the shorter duration of 
active service, the slight visibility of the enemy, and the high- 
power armament demands that the troops engaged shall be 
progressively nourished b}^ the opportune and periodical 
arrival on the firing line of fresh troops in closely calculated 
numbers, and, on the other hand, that the troops not engaged 
shall be spared as much as possible from the depression caused 
by useless losses by taking cover from the view and fire of the 
enem}^, by judicious emplo3^ment of sheltering obstacles and 
the depressions of the ground. 

6. The extended duration of battles, which will continue per- 
haps for several days, the necessity of nourishing the action 
along the entire front, and perhaps the relief, after 5 or 6 
hours' fighting, of the troops actively engaged, lead us to 


believe that the entire fighting- front of an army corps should 
not exceed the dimensions allowed at present, which vary 
from 3 to 5 kilometers. 

7. The division of fighting' units, the imperious necessity for 
taking advantage of the slightest cover, and, lacking cover, 
of lighting prone; finally, the impossibility of officers exer- 
cising active command over their men by standing behind 
them, all result in requiring on the part of the individual 
skirmisher a stronger morale than formerly. 

Soldiers in whom a good military education, developed by 
example, by exercise, and by discipline, has inculcated an 
absolute confidence in themselves, their comrades, and their 
leaders, these soldiers will fight well despite their isolation, 
and, if they should be killed, their death will cost the enemy 

On account of the powerful armament of the artillery and 
infantry, the front of a position has become almost inviolable 
throughout almost its whole extent; but a skillful general 
will be able to discover a zone of approach and a favorable 
position for assembling for the attack; or, better still, a feeble 
point in the enemy's line, which will be either a badly flanked 
salient in his front or a wing badly supported or difficult of 

The inviolability of the front of a position, even for forces 
sensibly superior to those defending it, causes the decision 
to be sought in a surprise attack, powerful, well prepared, 
and carried out against the point judged most favorable. 

A strong surprise attack presupposes secret concentration, 
at a short distance from the point of attack, with a harmony 
of arrangements very superior to those which the enem}^ can 
have at this point. 

The preparation is carried out by numerous skirmishers, 
taking advantage of cover toward the objective with the aid 
of numerous guns, which, after silencing the enem3^'s artil- 
lery, turn their tire on the enemy's infantry. 

The execution is the last phase of the action. It consists 
of putting in motion the attacking mass, charged with follow- 
ing up in the interior of the position a previous success of 
the skirmishers, who have been progressively reenforced, and, 
with the aid of the artillery, have taken possession of the 
captured portion of the position. 


We shall amplify the outline traced by us of the methods 
of decisive attack. 

Captain Gilbert, whose death in October, 1901, was an irrep- 
arable loss to military art, left a work entitled "The South 
African War," and his conclusions, in which we concur, are as 

Conducted in a theater and with means entirely different from those we should see in 
Central Europe, the South African war can evidently not throw a great light on the 
mysteries of future wars. 

Between these conflicts of great nations, from which the imagination recoils and the 
heroic resistance of a handful of peasants, the difference is even greater than that between 
the wars of the Vendee and those of the First Empire. The employment even of our 
perfected weapons was here on too small a scale and with too much inexperience; the 
statement of results is not yet sufficiently in documentary form for us to draw exact con- 
clusions on elementary tactics. 

During the 3^ears immediately following the war of 1870 
the question of the action of approach of infantry in open 
countr}^ occupied, at least as fully as it does to-day, the officers 
of infantr}^ both French and German, who had taken part in 
the great battles of this war. 

The scattered formations for traversing open spaces, the 
re-forming of units in the successive firing positions, and the 
means of acquiring a superiority of fire were the objects of 
experimental researches as numerous as they were varied. 

These came to an end in France after the adoption of the 
regulations of 1875, and in Germany a year later when the 
regulations of 1876 appeared. 

General Prince Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen states in one of his 
''Letters on Infantry" (1885) that among the experimental 
formations immediately after the war of 1870 for an attack 
over bare ground, the strangest dispositions could be found, 
among others the following: 

Each battalion covered entirely a square of 300 paces on each side, with files of two men 
each, and he adds, " It is only right to ask if in this case the ' general suave quipeuV was 
not carried to the height of a principle." 

The eminent author^ of the work New Order of Tactics, 
published in the Revue Militaire de V Etranger of October, 
1871, sums up as follows the principles regarded as axioms in 
the German army of the time: 

The action of skirmishers, the dispersed order, call it what you will, is the only forma- 
tion for infantry in action. The action of skirmishers opens, prepares, and decides the 

« Captain Cardot, since made a general officer, as all know. The " New- 
Order of Tactics " was the subject of three articles appearing in the num- 
bers for October 6, October 16, and November 16, 1874. 


result of the action. The attack on the enemy's continuous line is no longer possible ex- 
cept by successive approaches and by the aid of a fire more and more nourished and 
without sensible intermittence. 

The skirmishers advance by fractions, with successive short rushes at full speed, taking 
cover or lying flat; they are followed, reenforced, and sustained by the other fractions of 
the advance line,a which employs like methods in advancing. 

The main body of the battalion conforms to the movement, dividing up and taking 
open order if the intensity of the e-nemy's lire or the configuration of the ground renders 
this necessary. 

And the author concludes: 

It is for the French officers that we must resume in a short space the principles so 
often stated in this work: 

The laiu of modern warfare is the indissoluble alliance of fire and the offensive; in 
other terms, shock action and fire action, the intimate mixture, the incessant alterna- 
tion of the advance and the fire of musketry in all its forms. 

The expression of this law, its manifestation, is the action of skirmishers, the dispersed 
order, the individual order; the name is of no importance. 

The model, if one is necessary, is the company column, or, more exactly, the system 
of subunits of the battalion. 

The characteristic is individuality. 

In 1871 the vivid remembrance of checks given four years 
before to infantry attacks insufficiently prepared by fire, dic- 
tated methods of attack identical with those which the South 
African war seems to have brought forth, and these methods 
were applied in France by the regulations of June 12, 1875, 
which were replaced by those of July 29, 1884. 

But armies require from time to time a whipping to wake 
them up, otherwise they allow themselves to glide down 
the incline which leads to indifference, and to the loss, little 
by little, of a true knowledge of war.' 

In default of campaigns to stimulate their energy, ar- 
mies which have slept long in the delights of peace lind an 
excitant in every murderous war which takes place abroad, 
and it is thus that the Russo-Turkish war of 1878, and more 
recently the South African war, have furnished an occasion 
for the armies of Western Europe to renew their vigor and 
to a certain extent to find a new field for their warlike activit3^ 

Under this head the articles appearing last year in Germany, 
and dev^oted to the lessons that can be drawn from the late 
South African war, are very interesting. We shall give them 
a passing glance. 

«In Germany, in a battalion in action, the "advance line" is the line 
formed by the companies called in France the "first line;" and the " prin- 
cipal line ' ' is that formed by the companies called in France the ' ' second 

17432—05 8 


The first in date of these publications is the lecture given 
March 5, 1902, in Berlin b}^ Lieutenant-Colonel Lindenau, 
chief of a section of the Prussian General Staff. 

The author considers especially the methods of infantr}" 
attack over open ground as influenced by the lessons of the 
South African war, and he sums up in these words: 

If we take a general view of the infantry attack as exemplified In the South African 
war, we see that every attempt to carry out an attack by regular or mechanical move- 
ments failed utterly. 

The attack never progressed surely unless sustained by an incessant fire and patiently 
conducted from firing point to firing point. In the Transvaal, whenever firing positions 
could not be found, the attack over open country received a check. It was necessary in 
this Qase either to construct cover under the protection of darkness with the intrenching 
tool, or to remain motionless while awaiting a success in some more favorable portion 
of the terrain. 

The Boer war showed what too precipitous attacks can lead to with our present arma- 
ment. We must not imitate the English, who attacked the Boers more often with their 
feet than with their guns. 

And Lieutenant-Colonel Lindenau concludes: 

More than ever the infantry attack of the future will, in all its phases, have more of 
an individual character. 

Sometimes rushing forward, sometimes lying down and motionless, sometimes walking, 
sometimes running, but ceaselessly utilizing cover afforded by the terrane, the assailant 
will advance, little by little, sustained by fire from chosen points of vantage and from 
well organized wings. They will often have to fight motionless for hours at a time in 
order to obtain a superiority of fire * * *. 

It will be due to an unshakable tenacity and perseverance rather than to a division 
into disorganized powder that the attack will progress, and it Avill progress so much the 
better if everything has been prepared calmly and methodically * * *. 

In the future, as in the past, the attack of infantry endowed with immense destructive 
force will remain generally the surest means of gathering the laurels of victory. 

The preceding remarks are not unjustifiable, but they savor 
too much of pure theory, and do not take into account the 
necessary considerations of tactical requirements and unitv of 

General de Scherf, well known for his philosophical and 
military works, replied to Lieutenant-Colonel Lindenau in a 
brochure entitled Ensemhle or Indimdualism in Attack. 

General de Scherf is an upholder of the normal methods of 
attack. In this respect he goes a little too far, considering 
that, in a general way, the dispositions for decisive attack that 
can be made b}^ a certain unit are not extremely varied on 
account of the narrow conditions that must be fulfilled by 
every attack which is sent with a rush against the enemy, in 
order to make it move with eclat. 

But there is little agreement on this subject, because every 
man's point of view differs from that of his neighbor. 

tra;n'slations pertaining to boer war. 115 

In our opinion the division of the attacking troops might 
be carried as far as desired, provided the CQass of troops des- 
tined to enlarge the breach and convert a partial success into 
a victory shall be formed compactl}^ ready to maneuver or 
deploy, as the case may be. 

General de Stieler, in the Jahrbucher for October 1902, is 
less exclusive than General de Scherf, but he wishes to put 
young officers on their guard against becoming enamored of 
methods of attack which are too artificial. 

Here are some of his observations: 

What causes us to go endlessly astray on the events of the Boer war is that we ignore 
the psychology of battle. 

Neither the targets nor the marksmen at Spandau (Prussian Normal School for Target 
Practice), any more than the Boers in the Transvaal, give a. psychologically correct 

If the targets returned the fire, the per cent of hits would be considerably lowered; and 
if the Boers, hidden in their trenches, and only slightly disturbed by the enemy's fire, 
had been compelled to suffer stronger moral impressions, the English, despite their for- 
mations, would not have had to suffer such considerable losses. 

One is forced to the conclusion that in battle the best method of taking cover is not 
found in the terrain nor in complicated formations. 

The best cover is in the conduct of fire. 

We must make sure of a superiority of fire, without which we can not advance any 
better than the English. 

It is with the tactics of fire that we must work. 

The "Boer tactics" caused a loss of precious time, with all its consequences. 

The troops are divided into infinitely small parts, these molecules are divided still far- 
ther, one is pushed forward, the other held back, the voice of the commander is heard, 
the units are intermixed with each other, the command is given, the troops leave cover 
and throw themselves forward, 

This is not war. 

Those who have made war know that the officer has the greatest difficulty in getting 
his men away from even the smallest shelter and carrying them forward. 

In an army of a million men who have never before taken part in a war, there are 
nothing but heroes in the rough. The most ardent patriotism often has need of disci- 
pline when it becomes a question of playing with death. 

Discipline, cohesion, and marksmanship, alone will take us into the enemy's ranks. 

General de Steiler then goes on to show that on the field of 
battle all blows do not come from the front, and that certain 
formations, only slightly vulnerable when projectiles are 
directed against them from the normal direction, become veiy 
dangerous when attacked on the flank. 

General de Steiler's conclusion is that on the field of battle, 
when bullets are whizzing past the head, one can not make 
an advance except with troops well in hand and strongly 

There appeared in July, 1902, an anonymous article entitled 
Action of German infantry^ as determined by the experience 
gained at Doberitz, near Berlin, in 1902. 


The author begins ])y establishino- the faet that in open 
countiy the troops of the Hrst Hne advancing against an enemy 
in position ought to eniplo}- formations and methods which 
will enable them to arrive with minimum losses at the first 
firing position, chosen at 500 to 800 meters from the enemy. 

To this end he recommends, even at long ranges, chains of 
skirmishers with 8 to 12 meters interval, moving b}- squads, 
which execute rushes of 20 to 30 meters, even on all fours, 
carr3nng the rifle by the sling in the teeth. 

The author then gives a system of instruction in this method 
for the man, the tile, the squad, the platoon, and the company. 

The squad which arrives first at the initial firing position 
takes cover and waits till it is joined b}^ the other squads of 
the platoon, when the chief of platoon gives the commands 
for firing." 

During the approach to the first firing position the squads, 
echeloned from front to rear, ought not to execute their 
rushes at the same time. 

The supports employ similar methods in reaching positions 
which correspond to the first firing position. 

Before the engagement the superior ofiicers and captains 
ride rapidly to a point favorable for observation, and while 
making their observations use ''Apache'' methods to keep 
from being seen. 

If the terrain ofi'ers ways favoring the march of approach 
the}^ are utilized by modifying the formations to suit the 

At the proper time successive firing positions toward the 
enemy are occupied by the same methods, the groups remain- 
ing in rear protecting b}^ their fire those which have moved 

The author bases his conclusions on a certain number of 
maneuvers, which he describes with care. 

These maneuvers, participated in by the author and taking- 
place at Doberitz in May, 1902, seem to have been fully re- 
viewed and corrected, but their greatest value is in view of 
the tendencies which they exemplif3\ 

In a final analysis the author shows that he sees no neces- 
sity for revising the regulations. He limits himself to inter- 

«^The Prussian company is divided into three platoons, each commanded 
by an officer. 


preting them with regard to the elasticity of the elements of 
the first line, submitted to a musketry fire in an open country 
while gaining the first firing position, and later, after a supe- 
riority of fire is gained, in moving to the successive firing 
positions toward the enemy, the last of which marks the line 
of departure of the direct attack on the enemy's position. 

The ideas of the author, though finding certain favor with 
the German military public, were opposed by some publica- 
tions, among them the Militdr Wochenblatt^ which, in its 
number for September 13, 1902, criticises, over the signature 
of Major Hurt: 

1. The advance by rushes, executed by squads. 

2. The dispersion of the supports. 

This criticism is not lacking in justice, for the system ex- 
tolled by the anonymous author of German infantry in 1902 
for carrying out the advance of the first line in open country 
and under musketry fire seems more theoretical than practical 
in actual war. 

To sum up, the researches and experiences of last year in 
German3^ with regard to the modifications which the lessons 
of the South African war are susceptible of making in the 
present tactics, agree unanimously in maintaining the present 
regulations on the subject; but they have resulted in exciting 
the intellectual activity of the officers, and leading them to 
choose, in each particular case, the most appropriate dispo- 
sitions for attaining the desired result with a minimum of 
losses and without abandoning a morsel of their command 
over their troops, which is an essential condition of unity of 
action, and is the key to success in war. 

To-day, in France, opinions on tactical methods are more 
divided than elsewhere, and form two distinct currents of 

On one side the tacticians of the historical school, much the 
more numerous, remain faithful to the traditions of the Na- 
poleonic wars, laboriously reconstructed in our arnw after 
the events of 1870-71, and analyze the events of recent wars 
with a view to modif3^ing the present tactics as required by 
the increasing power of armament. 

On the other hand, the tacticians of the rational school, who 
make up for their lack of numbers by an ardor somewhat 
nois\^, wish to revolutionize the present tactics, or rather 


abolish them entirel}^, and substitute a system of tactics eii- 
tirel}^ new, which they call '•'the tactics of the future." 

Revolution is a synonym for violent remedy, capable of 
killing the invalid, and its use is not justified except in des- 
perate cases. 

The present system of tactics is far from requiring such 


Translated from La France Militaire (June, 1904) for the Second Division, General Staff, 
by First Lieut. S. M. De Loffre, Assistant Surgeon, U. S. Army. 

A ver}^ interesting study due to Lieutenant von Gentz, of 
the Second Lorraine Infantry, No. 131, has just appeared in 
the Militdr WochenMatt. It is entitled: "Do tlie Lessons of 
the South African War Authorize us to Modify our Infantry 
Tactics? " ^ We give below the translation. 

Rarely in its time has a campaign so greatly aroused the 
interest of all civilized nations as the South African war has 
done. Although this interest seems actuall}^ lessened by 
reason of the South-west African war and the war in the 
extreme Orient, and although we may hope to see certain 
tactical questions cleared up in the Russo-elapanese war, 
nevertheless the observations of an officer who took part in 
the Transvaal war are still valuable to-day.^ 

Even to the military world, this last war has offered, out- 
side of political events, much that is new, and numerous facts 
deserving attention, but it has also given rise to many prob- 
lems whose solution is not yet known. 

The partisans of the militia in Europe have followed with 
intense interest the campaign in the Transvaal, which, from 
the beginning, seemed to produce many arguments in favor 
of their theories. 

To any casual observer of events it seemed to be clearly 
proven that, in this particular case, an army composed of 
militia could be used in war and could be of service. The 
adversaries of the militia had, for a short time, as their only 
argument against this demonstration brought about by the 

« Lieutenant von Gentz was present with the Boer forces during the war. 
^ This article was written before the battle on the Yalu. 



Transvaal campaign, this one confirmation: The mercenary 
English army could not be compared to an European army 
having the present organization. These two ways of thinking 
were as false, one as the other. They were due to a complete 
ignorance of the true conditions of war in this theater of 
operations. On the one hand the English troops were not 
even of ordinary worth (impartial military critics agree on 
this subject); on the other hand, the victories of the Boers 
were not in any way a striking proof of the value, in war, of 
militia, whose worth was not manifested in a lirst outburst of 
exalted patriotism, but was rather belied by a long-drawn out 
and difficult war comprising many hardships. And the reverses 
sustained by the Boer army will occur to every army composed 
of militia. 

The reasons for the first successes of the Boers, which caused 
great surprise but did not keep up, naturally, and which led 
to so mam^ false conclusions, were the following: 

I. The mountainous nature of the countr\^, very difficult, 
offering all the advantages to the defender and unfavorable to 
the inv^ading army, especially for its artillery. 

II. The fact that the Boers held themselves nearl}^ always 
on the defensive, even when on the strategical offensive, 
whereas the English were always attacking, often with an 
insufficient numerical superiority. 

III. The initial mistakes made by the English. 

IV. Finally, the advantage the Boers had of being accli- 
mated, and of having opposed to them adversaries — officers and 
soldiers — little acquainted with the nature of the country or 
the geography of the theatre of operations. 

Nevertheless, in Germany they did not fail to make "much 
ado about nothing," and to demand a premature modification 
of the tactics, up to the time when the invalid suppositions on 
which the partisans of reform dwelt were irrefutably brought 
to light. 

On account of the numerous factors put into play, with 
which we would not have to contend in Europe it was especially 
difficult, in this South African war, to appreciate fully the 
value of the operations and successes of both sides. It is not 
so easy as one thinks, even for those who were able to form 
an opinion on the ground itself from what they saw and went 
through, to adapt their conclusions and observations to our 


army, in equal proportions. Having said this, 1 here propose 
to take up again the following points, which are nothing else 
than the reproduction of my particular impressions and ideas, 
maybe without value, but personal. 

I wish first to answer the questions asked in the title of my 
subject. To the attentive and educated observer of military 
matters, the South African war only taught one lesson. In 
almost all cases, the application of the tactical rules of our 
German regulations would have been perfect, and the Dest 
adapted to the purposes in view; it would have assured, more 
than any other, numerous successes. 

If the teachings of war seem to demand a modification of 
our tactics, it is especially on account of the habits contracted 
during drills. It is only in very rare cases that these lessons 
are at variance with our regulations governing maneuvers. 

The enormous and surprising eflPects of small-caliber fire on 
the attacking infantry, which were manifested for the first 
time by the attacks of the English infantry, and the insur- 
mountable difficulties met with in these attacks against an 
adversary armed with modern weapons; the fact that in the 
attacks of the English infantry they failed to apply the prin- 
ciples laid down for attacks in the German maneuvers and 
that these attacks were more often* made in schematic forma- 
tions, similar to those we may see applied on our drill 
grounds — all these circumstances, I say, served as a demon- 
stration of our tactical principles, now in use, for infantr}^ 
attacks, taking into account the several factors of modern 
warfare. This demonstration is an unquestionable proof to- 
day of the excellence of our regulations governing warfare. 

Some military writers go so far in their estimation of the 
importance of rapid-fire guns that they declare that a front 
attack on level ground is in all cases impossible, and they base 
their opinion on the reverses sustained by the English in the 
Transvaal. But before the experiences of the South African 
war we already knew (and the regulations read so in large 
type) that no one could dream of making an attack on open 
ground unless he had obtained the superiority of fire. This 
can only be obtained in war after several hours of fighting, 
often after several days; moreover, no one ignores it, as is 
shown by the impossibility of carrying out an action of such 
length at the time of our exercises of instruction. 


Contrary to our regulations, which make the effect of the 
lire the principal object, the old English regulations, which 
were still in force during the war, read: ""The advance must 
be made as quickly as possible, as the bayonet charge is the 
chief object in view."^ 

This antiquated tendency, long since dropped by the con- 
tinental armies of Europe, manifested itself very frequently 
with the English in the Transvaal, and they often sought the 
outcome of the attack in battle by hand-to-hand encounters, 
without having first sufficiently prepared for this attack by 
lire, either by infantry or artillery fire. And this was one of 
the chief causes of defeat for the English infantry, in spite of 
their having borrowed the formations from our regulations. 

At Potgietersdrift, on the Tugela (from the 5th to the 8th of 
Februar}^, 1900), for instance, we had only 5 or 6 deaths and 
an insignificant number of wounded, after a bombardment 
which lasted 3 days from sunrise to sunset, of our infantry 
positions, reinforced only by about 5 pieces and executed by 
about 50 English guns. Such meager results could not be 
considered as having acquired a superiority of fire. On Feb- 
ruary 5 and 6, same result. As soon as our weak artillery 
momentarily ceased firing in the face of the strong English 
artillery fire, the English, believing that our guns were dis- 
mantled, would advance their infantry to the attack. During 
these 2 days the English infantry attack was repulsed all along 
the line by our artillery fire, weakened, but from new positions 
on the battlefield, before the infantry lines could come within 
range for small-arm fire. The assault of February 6 on the 
southernmost spur of the Vaalkranz was only partially suc- 
cessful, which could not affect the real outcome of the battle. 
This -also happened on other battlefields. 

As to what concerns two of the special formations of frontal 
attack, as indicated in articles 76 and 82 of the Regulations 
for Maneuvers, the South African war furnished examples 
which favor their employment. I mean examples of night 
attacks — that is to say, a renewal of the first part of the attack 
under cover of darkness and the beginning of a surprise in 
order to obtain the superiority of fire at the break of day. 

« The new English regulations, adopted after the Transvaal war, state 
that the importance of the fire is greater. 


The English, who alone, in my opinion, are concerned in the 
discussion of offensive tactics in the Transvaal war, often had 
recourse to this procedure. When' it was not followed b}^ 
success, it was because they made other mistakes. In the 
battle of Spion Kop, for example (on the night of the 23d- 
24th of January, 1900), the daring night attack of Woodgate's 
brigade against our fortified position on Spion Kop succeeded 
in capturing from the Boers the ke}^ to their position almost 
without firing a shot, in spite of the great difiSculties which 
the attacking force had to surmount. There,- as is often the 
case, the defeat of the Boers was due to the tard}^ arrival and 
the small number of the reserve troops. Whoever took pari 
in the terrible battle of January 21, fought between two skir- 
mish lines lying only about 300 meters from each other, well 
knows how the result of the fight hung for many hours by a 
slender thread. On the night of the 21th-25th of Januar}^, 
during which Spion Kop was evacuated by both armies, we 
did not even know the final result of the battle and only learned 
it on the morning of the 25th. For some extraordinary rea- 
son the new English regulations make no allusion to the pos- 
sibility of an attack of this nature under cover of darkness. 
The English attacks, in brief, have only clearly proven one 
thing: If the difficulties of the terrain or other causes do not 
necessitate a preliminary skirmish to obtain superiority of 
fire, as was often the case in the Transvaal, the advance dur- 
ing the day by a frontal attack to actual collision is an impos- 
sibility. We did not need the South African war to teach us 
this lesson, which is contained, as is commonly known, in that 
part of our regulations relating to attacks. 


The Boer war particularl}^ has brought to trial this much- 
discussed question, "Thin or dense lines?" which has started 
a lively controversy among military writers — a question upon 
which they are still far from agreeing. The chief point in 
this question is to bring the firing line up to the enemy with 
as few losses as possible. The advantages and disadvantages 
of thin and dense lines are numerous and balance each other 
pretty well. What the attacking force gains by advancing 
in a thin line to diminish its losses, it loses again by lessening 


the effectiveness of the fire that would result from dense lines. 
This fact, which was clearly proven every da}^ durino- the 
South African war, will lead us to use thin lines as a general 
rule in the first deployment, at long distances, in the combat 
position from which the fire can reach its greatest efficiency; 
also in the advance of the support, in combats where the object 
is to allow the real attack to make its dispositions; in brief, 
in all cases where there is no primordial reason for giving the 
maximum development to the effectiveness of the fire. 'In 
contrary cases it will be impossible to escape the necessity of 
manning, w^ith guns, this position where we wish to acquire 
the superiority of fire, and we will do this in all the limited 
and available space, without an afterthought, and without 
letting ourselves be influenced by other circumstances. So 
then it should be thin or dense lines, according to the purpose 
of the fight or the tactical situation imposed b}^ the terrain or 
by circumstances. 

If the English, as a result of their experience in the late 
\var, lay down the rule to-day that only thin lines should be 
used in fighting with rapid-fire guns, they defeat their object, 
in my opinion, and make the same mistakes that the Austrians 
did in 1859. 

Their losses, during the latter part of the war, were due partly 
to the wrong teachings they drew from former battles: Thin 
lines under all circumstances. We find an example of this in 
an attack made by the English on February 5 on the Waalk- 
ranz positions (Tugela), where part of the thin line, marching 
with wide intervals successfully advanced without anj^ serious 
loss to the position held by the Boers; but, in the latter part 
of the fight, on account of the lack of densit}^ of their skirmish 
lines, not receiving the proper support from the rear, they 
did not have the proper effectiveness of fire to profit by their 
successful start against the part of the positions that were 
still intact. 

The answer to the question of thin or dense skirmish lines, 
given by the teachings of the South African war offers nothing 
new. Our maneuver regulations are ver}^ clear on this sub- 
ject (first part, article 123; second part, articles 22, 23, 24, 25, 
29, 65, 90, 91). 



As to what concerns fire action — although we must take 
into account the more extended view, due to the clearness of 
the air in Africa and favoring- fire at a greater distance — the 
modern rifle should urge us, even under the conditions in 
which battles will be fought in future in Europe, to seek for 
a decision by fire at greater distances than those that the 
usual maneuvering grounds l;iave accustomed us to up to this 
day. We used to admit as rules, in our exercises, that we 
must not open fire in oftensive operations at more than 800 
meters, and when on the defensive at more than 1,000 meters. 
The great effectiveness of the fire of the Boer infantry, often 
at 800 to 1,000 meters, has led us to advance the time for 
opening fire as well as the position chosen to give to the fire 
its greatest intensity; to use our guns at longer ranges, and 
to increase our target practice, which has made so much 
progress during the past ten years; finall}^ to give more time 
to open order-drills. Thin skirmish lines deployed to large 
intervals, the opening of fire at greater distances, the neces- 
sity of not exposing on the battlefield any force in close 
order, frequent dashes from rear to' front of thin skirmish 
lines, advancing by rushes, plentifully supplied with ammuni- 
tion, and giving an impulse to the firing line up to the last 
position of the line; such will be the character of offensive 
operations in future on open groundv There is nothing in 
these principles contrary to the spirit of the regulations, 
which prescribe, moreover, that all normal formations should 
be abandoned, without hesitation, if circumstances demand it. 


By A. VON BoGUSLAwsKi, Lieutenant-General, Unattached. 

Translated from the German for the Second Division, General Staff, U. S. Army, by 
Capt. Fredbik L. Knudsen, Eighth Infantry. 


The elements of battle-leading on a large scale are just as 
unchangeable as those of strategy. The information, prepa- 
ration of the battle, the direction of the attack, the use of 
localities, the keeping back of reserves, the direction of masses 
on the decisive point, the turning movement, the breaking 
through, and the counterstroke at the proper moment, all play 
their roles, and so it will be in the future. All these important 
matters were the same under Caesar and Hannibal as under 
Frederick, Moltke, and Napoleon. 

The spiritual agents, which constitute the inner value, as 
on the other hand, the weaknesses of the troops, will likewise 
remain the- same. The psychological influence will often be 
forced into the background during a long period of peace, and 
its observation will be neglected. 

But the changes in war material will bring about many 
changes in the fighting methods of individual organizations, 
and these influence one another. The art of employing troops 
will likewise be influenced by the tactics of the organizations. 

There are consequently periods in which some point of the 
fundamental principles is more prominent and another more 
obscure. In this case the nature of nations, as regards tem- 
perament and character, has also an influence. 

A direct attack will be attempted against the badly trained 

« Taktische Folgerungen aus dem Burenkriege und der Gruppenangriff. By 
Lieutenant-General A. von Boguslawski. Published by R. Eisenschmidt 
(Berlin. 1903), publishers of military literature. ' 



and imperfectly disciplined troops coming from a decayed 
nation, while against another enemy the turning movement 
must be resorted to. 

The cooperation of the different arms, whether in large or 
small units, is one of the conditions for effect in war. No arm 
can dispense with another; there are always moments in which 
now one, now another, will make itself more felt; one should 
therefore not be neglected at the expense of another. This 
applies not only to the organization, training, and armament, 
but also to the estimation they enjoy from the authorities and 
in the eyes of the people. 

But notwithstanding this, the principal role in action will 
always fall to the infantry, as it can be used in any manner 
and is unhindered by localities, unless it be deep water and 
perpendicular mountain sides. 

For this reason and because the tactics of infantry presents 
the greatest difficulties in its application, the commanders of 
armies, and with them military literature, have occupied 
themselves continually, since the introduction of the breech- 
loader and the improvements in weapons following thereon, 
in trying to discover the best form for that feature of infantry 
tactics which has again become the most difficult — the attack. 

It was many times believed that a certain conclusion had 
been arrived at, when the war in South Africa, from 1899- 
1902, produced opinions which found expression in experi- 
ments that have taken place lately. The object of this book 
is to express our opinion concerning this. Let us first, how- 
ever, review briefl}^ the development of the tactics of the 
German infantry since the wars of the Great Emperor. 


The very large losses of the Germans in their attacks in the 
August battles of the great war, lead, j ust as now the experiences 
of the Boer war, to the study of how to avoid them; and its 
attainment was attempted — just as at the present again — by 
altered formations. Pursuant to the correct idea, the dis- 
persed order of fighting which had decided 1870-71, of giving 
a greater extension, ''strong skirmish lines" were pointed 
out as answering the purpose. To form these, even whole 
platoons were to be used. (Cabinet order of July 4, 1872.) 

The supports may follow the skirmish line, not only in line 


or in column, but also in ranks and dispersed order, with groups 
in close or extended order. 

The advance by rushes was introduced. The rushes were 
to be 50 to 80 paces. 

It is this that is of special interest to us in that Cabinet 
order at the present time. These formations were practiced 
experimentally; but the practical, war-accustomed eye of the 
Great Emperor perceived at once the uselessness of supports 
in extended order and in ranks, as also the dangers which 
these formations would entail, namely, the firing on the real 
skirmish line from the rear, and the dispropoi'tionate breaking 
up into atoms covering the whole battlefield. 

In the cabinet order of April 13,1873, the Emperor rejected 
the artificial extension of the supports and the rank forma- 
tion — which also made difiicult the supervision and influence 
of the officers in action— and allowed the latter formation only 
quite exceptional l3^ 

The rushes were fixed at 50 to 60 paces. The proper idea 
of war and the consideration of the morale had consequently 
carried off the victory. 

On the other hand, the authorities were not able to make 
up their minds to adapt the regulations entirely to the new 
requirements, and therefore they retained the battalion col- 
umns and lines, deployments from column, the third rank, 
etc. , which had been declared in the selfsame cabinet order to 
be useless for infantry action in the first place. The regula- 
tions, however, gave such great latitude that the war training 
continued to progress gradually. 

A new impulse was given thereto by the constantly more 
rapid evolution of the technique of firearms, increased pene- 
tration and range, flat trajectory, the introduction of the mag- 
azine rifle and smokeless powder. Special care was given to 
fire discipline, and it was for a long time believed that this 
was to be attained by designating a certain number of car- 

Troops in close order were, to be sure, still made to fire 
impossible volleys, but strong swarms of skirmishers were 
considered the principal means for fighting. 

In 1877 the scientific firing instructions of Mieg was distrib- 
uted to the arni}^, at first as an anonymous work. Although 

17432—05 9 


it did not on the whole bring anything new, it was a valuable 
contribution to the science of firing; but as it advocated 
long-range and volley tiring, both were used to excess for a 
while. However, after a hot literary controversy, a reaction 
soon set in against these exaggerations. Improvements in 
the rifle were certainly taken into account, but a return was 
made to the principle of opening tire, especially in the attack, 
at the shortest possible ranges and acknowledging the skirmish 
lire as the principal kind of fire. 

The extended-order fighting had taken firmer root, but 
the training was still made diflScult b}^ the practice of forma- 
tions which would be impossible under the present fighting- 

Then, while excellent regulations for the performance of 
field service were issued in the period from 1872 to 1888, new 
drill regulations first appeared in 1888. 

These extracted the quintessence of the experience derived 
from 1870-71, the maneuvers and the opinions advanced in 
military literature — 3^es, many paragraphs from the books 
that treated of tactics were adopted word for word in the 

It does not seem necessar}^ for our purpose to anah^ze here 
the regulations, since they are certainl}^ known to our read- 
ers. The readers that belong to other arms are also suflfi- 
ciently informed as to the infantry formations and its fight- 
ing methods. We point out only that the regulations, in II, 
82, give general principles for the carrying out of the attack, 
wherein the strong swarms of skirmishers that are necessar}^ 
are expressly emphasized. The unity of the attack, through 
the order of the highest commander for the assault, is pointed 
out as especially desirable. The regulations prohibit ex- 
pressly any method of procedure which goes beyond the 
principles laid down in the above-mentioned part. We shall 
not again here make this much-disputed theme the subject 
of discussion— whether the regulations would not have done 
better to give some more explicit rules for carrying out the 
attack — since we must revert to them when considering the 
so-called new tactics of the attack. 

Another important part of the regulations are the rules 
which have been designated by the name "task system." It 
arose from the cogency of guaranteeing the initiative of the 


subordinate leaders and avoiding superfluous and harmful in- 
terference with subordinate leaders. This is quite well in 
itself, and there are certainl}^ many situations in which the 
assigning of individual tasks is necessary, but also, especially 
in great actions, such in which the simplest command is suffi- 
cient for a subordinate organization or troops, in order to 
direct it and make it act effectively. The regulations would 
have done well to emphasize this strongly, because it can not 
be denied that an exaggeration of the "task system" may 
cause a breaking up of the forces and a faulty cooperation. 
As valuable as the initiative of the subordinate leader is, it 
can, however, manifest itself only exceptionally in large oper- 
ations of war.^' 

It is also to be mentioned that the regulations emphasize 
strongly the influence which is to be exerted on the mind and 
the development of the soldier's character during his training, 
that there are further some brief principles where the soldier 
will be shown the moral factors which have a decisive influ- 
ence in action.^ 

The regulations Anally emphasize quite decidedl}^ that the 
mixing up of organizations is to be avoided as much as possi- 
ble, but that if this can not be prevented the troops must also 
know how to fight in intermingled units, in close or extended 
order, in unformed ranks, or with an inverted front. 

The regulations, based upon great experiences in war, are 
certainly adapted to the freeing of the infantry training from 
its bonds and to advancing it. But it was not unnatural that 
the continually progressive improvement of the artillery and 
the rifle, and furthermore the consideration of isolated war 
incidents, such as those of the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78, 
did not permit the discussion of infantry tactics to cease. 
The results of the extraordinaril}^ improved tiring exercises 
on the terrain and on the maneuver grounds contributed 
thereto, and, as always in time of peace, incorrect conclusions 
for real fighting were often drawn from their results. Excel- 
lent works on the science of firing were written by reason of 
these exercises, but they also often caused a proneness to 

'^ Thif; will also be reverted to later on. 

^> We have already done this before in our small works, "Training and 
Inspection," and "The Conduct of the Infantry Soldier in Action." 


ascribe a too oreat inHuence to the technical and ballistic 
elements in the consideration of tiohtino- conditions, and to 
neo'lect too much the tactical side and psycholoo-ical influences. 

The results thereof were propositions which recommended 
an instantaneous and very considerable extension of front, in 
order to bring about at once and as much as possible an over- 
lapping b}^ employing very dense skirmish lines through 
which a decrease of depth took place of itself. Opposed to 
this method was, above all, the consideration that in great 
battles an extension will take place which will make superior 
leading, so difficult in itself, still more difficult. 

In the second place, the demand for artificial formations, 
like those which had been thrown overboard in 1872, was 
made again, and all that was justified by the increased fire 
efi:ect of infantry and artillery. The extension of the ranges 
found once more its advocates. 

From all this proceeded the proposition that the decision 
in the attack is to be sought only and solely in the overlap- 
ping and superiority of the attacker. The fire fight was to 
be the decisive feature. Many went so far as to declare an 
attack over open ground impossible. 

To this was also added the opinion of a high ranking officer 
that the decision by means of superiority of fire was to be 
sought only through proper change from strategical to tac- 
tical methods; that is to sa}^, by means of a convenient advance 
of several columns, which would concentrate their fire on the 

This is certainly a very favorable condition when it is 
brought about, but it can not deliver us from seeking a tac- 
tical method for the frontal attack, which may also man}- a 
time be necessary in the case of great turning movements. 

The opinion was also advanced that a kind of a siege method 
would be resorted to and that recourse must be had to the 
night for intrenching. Without wanting to press the con 
Crete case I am, however, of the opinion that it has been the 
endeavor of every great leader, and will also be so in the 
future, to end a battle in one day if this is at all possible. 
Military history shows us that this has many times been 

The advocates of this method advance the quite general 
proposition that the defense has again obtained a considerably 


greater strength through the new weapons. This proposition 
is not to be accepted unconditionally, at any rate not in its 
entirety, because the new weapons increase the strength of 
the attacker in the same proportion as that of the defender. 
The defender had also the undisputed advantage with the 
oldest blunderbusses of being able to use his weapons more 
steadil}^ and effectively, when he was in a position prepared 
beforehand, or even intrenched, than the attaker who was 
more or less in motion. The same is evidently the case at the 
present time. But to what extent will the condition have 
changed when the weapons are approximately equal on both 
sides? In the preparation of the action, in the stationary 
fire fight, which is a characteristic feature of the present 
action, finally, in the rapid fire, which is made to precede the 
decisive assault, the prospects of the attacker are just the 
same as formerly. The new weapon will give to the defender 
a continued greater superiority, if the attacker does not 
understand how to use his own weapon, or if he attacks 
unskillfully. As manifestations of unskillfulness may be 
mentioned, first of all, faulty formations; then a defective use 
of the ground and insufficient fire preparation. It is also 
natural to include in the proper use of the ground, in a 
negative sense, the avoidance of open ground for the attack 
when other roads and fields of attack are at disposal. 

But there is at any rate one condition which must not be 
left out of consideration, and that is the time during which 
the attacker advances without firing, whether it be to the last 
assault or for making the so-called rushes, or, finally, to bring- 
forward reenforcements. Here the rapidity of the fire and 
the flat trajectory exact their right and produce in a short 
time enormous losses, which have a shattering effect, to which 
I have always called attention. The art of attacking will now 
consist in not firing prematurely, even if the same effect as 
that of the defender can not be obtained. 

The superiority of the defender's fire at this moment can 
never be fully compensated for, provided the defender still 
holds out or is present. There is nevertheless a means, unjustly 
scorned, for weakening the effect of the defender's fire as 
much as possible in the last stages of the attack, and not 
remaining defenseless oneself.^ 

^I will establish my opinion more firmly in the proper place. 


But WO oppose quite determined 1 3' the opinion advanced 
that the proper means is found in the application of the rules 
for fortress warfare to field warfare, in order to compensate 
for the ostensibl}' acquired superiority of the defense. 

It has been desired to show the possibility of working- with 
intrenching tools toward the enemy's position during the 
night, by means of examples from the maneuvers. Yes; much 
can be proved by maneuvers. In the examples cited, the task 
of intrenching at about 450 meters from the enem3''s position 
is really performed wonderfully welL 

But I ask: "Where is the eneni}^ who is so accommodating 
in war? Where is the enemy who would not have posts and 
patrols at a few hundred meters in front of his position, who 
would not at once attempt, on receiving their report, to drive 
away the workmen with volleys or rapid fire and by means of 
a sortie'^ To be sure, if it is supposed that the defender has 
inclosed his position with wire entanglements in such a man- 
ner that he can move out therefrom in a narrow front only, 
he has indeed prepared himself for a passive defense and can 
keep the enemy away with fire only. The details of field 
warfare are, however, different from those of fortress war- 
fare. The besieged is, in the first place, not able to disturb 
the besieger, when the first infantry position is constructed — 
which will, however, not be situated at 450 meters, but between 
800 and 1,000 meters — to the same extent by a sortie on an 
extended front, as a sensible defender who has not condemned 
himself can do eflfectively, because the defender of a fortress 
must certainly traverse, to a greater or smaller extent, a defile 
when he sallies out. But if the besieger succeeds in approach- 
ing to 450 meters to throw up the second infantry position, 
the front of the fortress in question must be so shattered that 
nothing much can any longer be expected from it. 

These proceedings can therefore not be applied to field v/ar- 
fare as methods to be used everywhere, and we believe that 
we have established our plainly expressed opinion that in- 
trenching at this distance in front of the hostile position will 
only lead to resultless, exhausting night fighting and will 
make part of the troops useless for the next da3\ 

I do not know whether an advocate of such a method has 
ever led, in fortress warfare, working parties be3^ond the line 
occupied b}^ us, in order to undertake intrenching, etc. I 



have been there and have seen how difficult it is to keep order 
in the dark, to prevent a panic or confront it. All such con- 
siderations disappear naturally in a maneuver. 

It is naturally something different to strengthen the cap- 
tured points of support at a greater distance from the enemy 
during the night or even during the day, in order to insure 
oneself against a counter attack, or to obtain a specially 
secure artillery position; but to recommend such a siege 
method in field warfare as the general means for overcoming 
the difficulties of the attack appears to me to be a great mis- 

The recommendations which the present regulations make 
(p. 119), concerning the use of night operations, do not at all 
apply to such a siege method, but only to the advance to the 
edge of the hostile dangerous zone, and thus to the advancing 
of the troops while it is still dark, "so that," say the regula- 
tions, "the fire ma}^ begin toward morning." An attack 
must therefore be dealt with approximatel}^ as at Laon on 

This is, in brief, a description of the expressed opinions 
concerning tactics as the}^ have appeared during the last ten 
years, and the state of the infantry fighting methods. The 
Boer war is supposed to have brought about changes in tactics. 

Let us first consider the general conditions and some results 


The idea predominating in the strategy of a campaign will 
also manifest itself in its tactics. Yet it must do so forcibly, 
otherwise there will come to light in the whole conduct of the 
campaign a hidden inconsistency which can never lead to any 
result. This therefore means: If I intend to carry on the 
war offensively, I must seek the hostile arm}^ in order to 
attack and defeat it. The tactical operations w ill therefore, 
as a rule, also be offensive, and the tactical attack must there- 
fore be made. Before 1866 the idea had also arisen in us, 
and was even defended b}^ Moltke, that, assuming a strategical 
offensive, while relying on the superiority of the needle gun, 
we could fight on the defensive. We advance, take up a posi- 


tion, let the enemy assault it, and repulse him completely. 
Marshal Niel also had similar ideas before 1870. The results 
belied these ideas altogether. The Prussian troops were, in 
1866, always on the tactical offensive. There were, of course, 
a few exceptions, and the reason that the thoughtlessly ad- 
vancing adversary was received standing with rapid fire and 
not met with cold steel on the battlefield was found in the 
sound leading of single organizations. 

It is exceptionall}- rare to see only defensive action in a 
defense, and in an attack of greater proportions only offensive 
action. When the defender confines himself to a passive 
defense only, this is in itself a sign of weakness. The skill 
of the subordinate leader is principall}" shown by his being- 
able to alternate with attack and defense at the right time in 
the excitement of battle. This will manifest itself especially 
in encounters. 

The Boers assumed the strategical offensive in Natal, but 
they did not take the tactical offensive in a single great action. 
They took up a position, repulsed the attack effectively, but 
did not follow up the advantage, and thus did not make it 

Joubert's advance in the direction of Pietermaritzburg led 
to no result. No attack was chanced. 

Some would nevertheless perceive, first of all, in this con- 
duct (which can be explained only by the lack of a thorough 
strategical idea, namely, to utilize fully the original numerical 
superiority in one direction with concentrated forces) — some 
would, we say, perceive in the conduct of the Boers a new 
active embodiment of the idea: Strategical offensive, tactical 

The progress of the war has shown sufficiently well the 
impossibility of this method. The strategical advance came 
to a standstill, and the Boers also found themselves thrown 
on the strategical defensive, in which the}^ finally had to suc- 
cumb to the continuall}^ increasing force of the world power. 

This was the situation as it appeared to the attentive ob- 
server at the change of the year 1899 to 1900. 

Did, now, the commanders of the Boer army act absolutely 
incorrectly on this account? Such assertion is far from me. 
If they had the conviction that their troops were not fit for 
the great tactical offensive, that insufficient discipline and 


other moral shortcomings would have let the attack be 
shattered under the tire of the English quickloader and guns, 
then the method adopted was certainly the one left to them. 
We shall perhaps obtain more accurate information thereof 
from a book which one of the leading Boer generals is engaged 
in writing. 

A Bonaparte certainly, a Frederick perhaps, would have 
been prepared to tight a decisive battle with these masses and 
a force concentrated at one point, whether operating against 
Durban or Cape Town, and to teach his soldiers the offensive 
in the siege; but Joubert was not exactly a Bonaparte. 

We desire at any rate to assert that this idea has as a matter 
of fact met with disaster in this war also, and that an energetic, 
rapid, strategical offensive can not be controlled, so much the 
less, as it is never certain that our adversary will do us the 
favor of attacking us in our line position. 

In the first period of the war, from October, 1899, until the 
appearance of Lord Roberts, the defective strategy of the 
Boers against the many times unskillful tactical attacks of 
the English certainly did not exert any influence. 

There are now very few radical differences in the formations 
and lighting methods of the infantry of the large armies. It 
is true that the German regulations of 1888 have had a strong 
inffuence on all regulations, also on the English, because the 
incomparable war experiences of 1870-71, from which were 
evolved, although seventeen ^^ears later, our regulations, had 
raised our military reputation to the highest pitch among all 
nations, even among our enemies. 

There was nevertheless considerable difference between 
the English and German attack at that time. The former 
leaves the carrjdng through of the tire fight almost entirely 
to the first line, and the second line first comes into action in 
the last decisive act. If a third line is at hand, it also remains 
in rear in order to cover a possible retreat or to begin the 
pursuit. The deployment of skirmishers is to be as strong as 
possible, and the extent of front is not to exceed that of the 
attacking organization in line. 

The advance is to take place as rapidly as possible, the bay- 
onet attack being the main consideration. The distance of 
450 meters is designated as that at which effective fire is to 
begin. The second line follows at about 720 meters. As 


soon as the enemy's tire becomes much felt, the advance is to 
be by rushes; the volle\^ is especially recommended; maga- 
zine lire will tirst be used inunediately before the assault. 

The German regulations, on the other hand, emphasize the 
fact that the deployment of skirmishers is to }je sparse in try- 
ing to establish contact — that is to sa}^, in the tirst prepara- 
tion. But as soon as the decision is sought, strong swarms 
will be deployed at once and gradually reenforced b\' the sec- 
ond line. (Part II, 24.) The distances for lines in rear are 
not prescribed; the distances of the echelons should be such 
that these can not be hit by one shrapnel cone. 

Skirmish fire is declared to be the principal lighting method 
under all conditions. With us the middle ranges lie between 
600 and 1,000 meters. We can, therefore, as a rule, open lire 
at a longer range than the English infantry. 

These were, perhaps, at that time the principal differences in 
the regulations between the two infantries in carrying through 
an attack. 

It is seen that the German regulations show more points in 
common with the Boer lighting method than those of the 
English. But the English had been spoiled through cam- 
paigns against savage or half -civilized people, whose attacks 
the}^ had repulsed easily. 

It is well known that the training of the English infantry 
in utilizing ground and in shooting did not amount to much. 
The English officers belong to the educated classes and their 
heroism is undoubted, but their technical and practical mili- 
tary training leaves much to be desired. 

A good training of leaders and men in dispersed lighting 
can be accomplished through exercises and field maneuvers 
only on varied ground, and not through exercises in large 
camps. The English, whose laws do not permit their going 
on to pieces of ground which are private property, were, at 
the outbreak of the war, in the same position as the French 
before 1870, who had also carried on routinary maneuvers 
only in the camp at Chalons. 

The English army is in ever}^ way an arm}^ of volunteers, 
and the personnel contains many indifferent elements, but it 
is ever a national volunteer arm}^ and the troops have the 
consciousness of belonging to the great British Empire, to 
that race which b}^ its strength and tenacity has subjected 


several hundred millions of other races, and holds them in 
submission. It is so much the more remarkable that so many 
weak spots have come to light in the course of the war. 

Opposed to them was quite a peculiar army. A modern 
militia army, as it has been fondly called by the democratic 
militia friends, it was not, but it was a levy of all. in an}^ way 
liable to service, and that of a people who differ extremely 
in physical and moral qualities from the nations inhabiting 
Europe. The older generation had obtained experience in 
fighting with the English, the younger in lights with native 
tribes, and had through these experiences, but more especially 
b}^ hunting, developed into excellent shots. Steeled by work 
and exertion, the Boers also particularly excelled in eyesight. 

Their religious bent, of a somewhat Puritan tinge, gave to 
them the fatalistic belief that God would not abandon a just 
cause. Toward the English they felt as the victors of 1880, 
and they treated the natives with the consciousness of a ruling 
people. However, man remains man everywhere, and no 
army which desires to fulfill all requirements can lack a 
strong organization and strict discipline. This has shown 
itself in the case of the Boers. Not every man left the camp 
for the trenches when the English advanced. Often enough 
whole crowds left the camp to go home to work in their fields. 
The conduct of the Boers reminds one of that in Vendee. 
Their organization was faulty in the extreme. The ''com- 
mandos" were of different strength, commanded by a field 
cornet chosen by themselves. Greater units under perma- 
nent commanders were not provided for in their organization. 

Nearly all being mounted, the Boers had nothing to suffer 
from the exertions of the infantry soldier on marches in the 
burning sun. They were not only able to quickly evacuate a 
position and to rapidly reach one in rear, but also to frustrate 
the turning and enveloping movements of their adversary by 
rapid extensions of their line of defense. 

Not only was the individual Boer exceedingly skillful in 
taking advantage of the ground, as a result of his being accus- 
tomed to hunt, but the troops were also skilled in the con- 
struction of shelter trenches, etc., since the building of field 
fortifications is, on the whole, that part of military science 
which can, for the most part, be managed with good common 


Their defensive tactics had something in it of the methods of 
the natives with whom they had fought. They did not eschew 
yielding at one point to occupy a position lying in rear of it, 
in order to fall on the flanks of the pursuing enem v or sub- 
ject him to a flank fire. 

The Mauser rifle was superior to the P]nglish Lee-Enfield. 
The Boer artillery was considerably weaker in num))er.s, but 
a large part thereof consisted of rapid-fire guns, which were 
lacking altogether with the English. The Maxim -Nordenfeldt 
guns had even at that time shields similar to those now carried 
by the French field artillery, and are said to have proved quite 
efficacious against shrapnel and rifle fire.-' 

The peculiarities of the African theater of war have been 
described often enough in numerous works: Enormous extent, 
large plains and steppes, steep mountain formations with iso- 
lated tops (kopjes) jutting out, which offered excellent cover 
and firing positions, the slopes covered with boulders; few 
trees and little water; few villages, consequentl}^ few aux- 
iliary sources. These are, in brief, the characteristic features 
of that theater of war. 

From this is seen how it and all the conditions there differ 
from the European theaters of war, on which our wars took 
place, and we emphasize here this great difference, because it 
must also be especially taken into account when considering 
the tactical conditions. 




The principal force of the Boers under General Joubert ad- 
vanced in several columns, crossing the frontier mountains 
into Natal, and pushed forward concentrated against the Eng- 
lish camps at Glencoe and Ladysmith. The strength of the 
Boers was about 20,000 men; that of the English at both 
points, 9,000 men altogether, with about 3,000 men at Dur- 
ban and Pietermaritzburg. 

«For particulars see Lindenau, "Supplement to the Militar-Wochen- 
blatt," 3d part, 1902. 

'^The strategical situation is only given in so far as it has an influence on 
the tactical decision. 


About 12,000 Boers under Cronje were used ao-ainst Mat'e- 
king and Kimberly (western theater of operations). A weak 
southern arni}^ had penetrated into the northern part of Cape 

DUNDEE, OCTOBER 20, 1899. 

The camp at Glencoe was fired upon on October 20 b}^ 5 
guns on the Petersmith Hill at Dundee. The Boers had occu- 
pied this hill with 900 men under Lucas Me3^er. The col- 
umns advancing to the right and left of him were still in rear. 
General Simmons, whose detachment was 3,500 men strong, 
let his 20 guns open fire and decided to take Petersmith Hill. 

The action shows us first of all a repeated assault of 3 Eng- 
lish battalions on the high position of the Boers. The attacks 
were repulsed. Then came the reenforcement of the English 
with 4 companies in front, and the launching of a flank attack 
with 4 other companies, a detachment of mounted infantry, 
and the Eighteenth Hussar Regiment. The English did not 
wait for this flank attack, but advanced anew in front. Eor 
all that, only the flank attack was decided in favor of the 
English. But they lost 224 dead and wounded, among them 
32 officers, that is to sa}^ 6i per cent of 3,500 men. The 
Boers had only 10 dead and 6() wounded. One gun remained 

The only thing remarkable about this loss is the proportion 
of officers to men. Otherwise it must even be regarded as 
small, considering the repeated frontal attacks of the Eng- 
lish. The Boer position was situated on steep hills, which 
diminish the effect of grazing fire. 

The artillery fire preparation— 20 guns against 5 — compelled 
the Boers to draw back their guns. 

But the position of General Yule, who had taken the com- 
mand in the place of General Simmons, who had fallen, had 
become untenable, since Joubert's columns threatened to hen^ 
him in. 

In order to make his retreat to Lady smith possible. General 
White, commander in chief in Natal, who was in this proA^i- 
sionally fortified place, decided to clear the line of retreat for 
Yule by means of an advance on Elandslaagte. 

<"' The English lost, according to other accounts, 600 men, and the Boe?>- 
100 out of 900. That would be 17i per cent on the side of the English — 
consequently still a reasonal)le loss. 



Gen. Jan Kock had occupied with 800 Boers (including the 
German Vohinteer Corps and 2 guns) the rocky heights north- 
west of Elandslaagte. "- 

General French was given the task of taking the position 
with 3i battalions, 11 squadrons, and 8 batteries. He made 
very correct dispositions. While the artillery deployed in 
front of the enem3^'s position at half past 4 in the afternoon 
and 1 battalion attacked in this direction, 2 battalions tried to 
turn the left flank of the Boers. Several squadrons, making 
a detour to the right, accompanied this mov^ement, while 2 
other squadrons went around the right flank of the Boers. 

The English artillery Are compelled the Boers to withdraw 
their guns which w^ere, however, brought forward again and 
came into action at difl'erent times during the infantry fight. 

The English infantry rushed forw^ard against their adver- 
sary with the greatest contempt for death, in front and on the 
flank, from terrace to terrace on the steep slopes, bravelv sup- 
ported b}^ the artiller\', which approached at a gallop to within 
1,800 meters of the enemy's position. A short attack of 
mounted Boers on the English right flank was repulsed. 

The infantry attack came to a standstill at 100 meters from 
the crest, bat at the signal for the charge all put themselves 
in motion. The height was reached and the position taken^ 
which had been gloriously defended by 800 Boers and Ger- 
mans. The English cavalry attacked at the same time and 
completed the victory.*^ 

Loss of the English, 36 oflicers and 238 men dead and 
wounded. Of the Boers, 450 dead, wounded, and captured. 
The commander, Kock, was mortally wounded. Colonel 
Schiel, commander of the German volunteers, was wounded 
and captured. Count Zeppelin was killed. 

It is seen from both these actions that the flank attack was 
not at all unknown to the English, and that General French 

« To these are to be added, according to some accounts, about 900 Orange 
Colony Boers with 2 Maxims. (See Gilbert, "The South African War.") 
Other accounts say nothing about this. 

Editoe's Note. — According to the German General Staff History of the 
Boer War, the Boers gave their strength as 646 men and 2 guns. 

^ I can not say whether this attack was made by the squadrons from the 
English right or left flank. (Note: From the English left flank. — Editor. ) 


used it, on the whole, skillfully. But they also demonstrate 
that the losses do not assume the frightful proportions at 
which the hands were raised in horror in our ''bloodshy-' 
time. The loss of officers was also unusually high at Elands- 

We see that the English were victorious in both actions, but 
the Boers succeeded, by the skillfully executed concentric 
advance, with superior numbers, in shutting up the English 
corps, under General White, in Ladysmith, where Yule had 
arrived after a retreat involving extremel}^ heavy losses, to 
repulse the attempts at breaking through and thus gain a 
strategical triumph. But it is also shown further that the 
best strategy can be entirely successful by means of the final 
tactical result only, and this did not fail at Ladysmith. The 
Boers were not able to take this place either b}^ bombardment 
or assault. 


(See PL 1.) 

English reenforcements (1 army corps) have arrived; they 
are distributed in the following manner: One strong division 
to Natal; 1 division under General Lord Methuentothe west- 
ern theater of operations; 1 brigade and a part of the cavalry 
division under General Gatacre in the northern part of Cape 

General Buller has assumed the chief command, but goes to 
Natal in order to take special command there. 

There is no question but that a division of forces was 
caused by this distribution, which must have had an unfavor- 
able influence on the tactical decision. 

Buller had, at the end of November, 20,000 men at his dis- 
posal for operations in the field. The infantr}^ consisted of 
the Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth brigades, each of 4 battal- 
ions; the artillery of the First Brigade division of 3 batteries, 
the Second of 2, and 14 naval guns; 1 cavalry division of 3 

<^ Apart from a whole series of writings about the first part of the Boer 
war, Colonel von Lindenau has, in the third part of the Militiir Wochen- 
blatt for 1902, made some very pertinent observations on Colenso, Magers- 
fontein, and Spion Kop, to which we are able to refer several times. We 
can therefore be so much more brief. 


regiments, 2 independent sciuadrons, jind a detachment of 
mounted infantry, besides 1 compan}- of pioneers. 

In order to relieve Ladysmith, l^uller had to attack and 
defeat the Boers, who were intrenched at Colenso on the 
Tugela. He concentrated his troops for this purpose in a 
camp at Chieveley. On December i:^ and 14, 8 naval guns 
bombarded the position of the Boers, north of Colenso, who 
did not reply. 

Colenso lies only 13 kilometers from Ladysmith. If the 
Boers were defeated here, not only would Ladysmith be re- 
lieved, whose garrison showed itself very active in small sor- 
ties, but a very difficult retreat of all the Boer forces and loss 
of much material was to be expected by an energetic pursuit. 
The Boers had resolved to hold the position north of Colenso. 
This extended from the Red Hill to Fort Wylie. But Hlang- 
wane Hill, which flanked the line at Fort Wylie, was also 
occupied. The shelter trenches were, for the most part, 
not constructed on the heights, but the most advanced at 
their base were close to the Tugela, with the rest in tiers. 
The so-called Fort Wylie was constructed of strong boulders. 

The accounts still differ as to the Boer force. ^' It does not 
seem to have exceeded 5,000 men and 5 guns.^ Joubert 
had fallen sick and Louis Botha had assumed the command. 

Buller's order for the attack was somewhat long, according 
to our ideas, but I do not think that he prescribed too much 
when he directed both brigades in the first line to advance 
against the hills north of Colenso, after the}^ had crossed the 
Tugela. On the other hand, exception must absolutely be 
taken to the fact that a purely frontal attack was intended, 
while a great part of the enemy's position could have been 
enfiladedT— as Buller himself admits — b}^ taking possession of 
Hlangwane Hill, situated on the right bank of the Tugela. 

Instead of doing this, the order sent the Fifth Brigade, Hart, 
against Bridle Drift (ford); the Second, Hildyard, against the 
demplished bridge at Colenso; ordered the Fourth Brigade, 

"According to the German General Staff History of the Boer War, the 
Boers had approximately between 5,000 and 6,000 men, five light field 
guns, and three 4.7-inch howitzers. — Editor. 

^Lindenau gives 3,000 men and 6 guns. Other writers make quite un- 
certain statements. Gilbert, South African War, puts it even at 10,000 


Lyttelton, to follow the first two and in the direction of a 
point between Bridle Drift and the railroad, so as to support 
either the Second or the Fifth Brigade. The Sixth Brigade 
was to protect the flank of the Second toward Hlang-wane 
Hill, and, if necessary, to support the mounted brigade, 
which, with 1 battery, was to advance against the above-men- 
tioned hill, and, if possible, take position thereon, in order to 
enfilade the hopjes north of the railroad Ijridge. Stronger 
forces w^ould have been required for this. 

The Second Field Artillery Brigade Division, besides six 
naval guns, were to follow the Fourth Brigade, the First Field 
Artiller}^ Brigade Division was to advance east of the railroad 
and take up a position from which it could prepare the crossing 
of the Second Brigade. Six other naval guns were to follow it. 
One platoon of pioneers was attached to the Second Brigade 
and two were attached to the Fifth. 

The order says nothing about these pioneer platoons hav- 
ing means for crossing the Tugela, but this may be assumed. 
To the dispositions alread}^ enumerated is to be added that 
the order prescribes only partiall}^ an artiller}^ preparation 
proper of the attack. Instead of ordering the artillery into 
position against the decisive point or points by advancing a 
few covering infantry detachments, the Second Field Artillery 
Brigade Division is to folloio the Fourth Brigade; only the 
two batteries of the First Brigade division are to take up a 
preparatory^ position. 

The time for beginning the movement was between 3.30 and 
4.30 in the morning. 

A surprise was not possible, because the movements were 
fully perceived from the Boer position. Buller had, on the 
the other hand, no definite information as to his adversary's 


The Fifth Brigade, General Hart, advanced in close, compact 
masses without advanced cavalry, point, or skirmishers, in the 
direction w^here Bridle Drift was supposed to lie. It received 
gun and rifle fire at 500 meters from the Tugela, and deploved 
unskillf uU}^ as a result of the surprise. The foremost battalion 
hastens to the Tugela, finds no ford and can not cross the 
17432—05 10 


river, either because the Boers had daniined it or ])e('ause 
the ford was situated in another place. The brioade com- 
mander now directs the three rear battalions more to the east 
in order to look for the ford, whereb^^ the}" come into a bend 
of the Tugela and receive a murderous cross tire at a distance 
of a few hundred meters." 

A useless iire fight, accompanied by many losses, naturally 
began, and Buller ordered the brigade to retreat. The fore- 
most battalion could not, however, extricate itself, fought 
several hours, and a large part was captured. 

The Second Brigade, Hildyard, onl}^ 3 battalions strong, had 
advanced against the bridge. If ever a difference has shown 
itself in the method of using troops in the same ai-m}^ it was 
here. The brigade deployed at once strong skirmish lines, 
allowed even the support to follow in an extended line, and 
took possession of some farms at Colenso, wherein some parts 
of the Sixth Brigade, which had deployed against Hlangwane 
Hill, participated. 

To this contributed the fire of the Third Field Artiller}" 
Brigade Division and the naval guns, which silenced the guns 
north of Colenso, and also Fort Wylie. 

But at this moment the Fourteenth and Sixty-sixth field 
batteries, under Colonel Long, advance at a gallop and come 
into position on the right flank of the skirmish line of the 
Second Brigade. The}^ were onl}^ 500 meters from the Tugela 
and came under an annihilating fire from the nearest shelter 
trenches, about 700 meters distant, which laid low the greater 
number of the men and teams. Ten guns could not be brought 
back and were taken possession of by the Boers after the 
retreat of the English. 

This occurrence made the commander in chief abstain from 
any further attempt to force the passage. 

An attempt of General Dundonald to advance with his bat- 
tery and 1,000 mounted men against Hlangwane Hill was frus- 
trated by the fire of the small detachments of the Boers that 
held it. 

The order to retreat to the camp at Chieveley was issued at 
10.30 in the forenoon. The Fourth Brigade protected the 
retreating troops. 

«^ Gilbert's "South African War" has it, on the other hand, that the 
brigade turned upstream. 


The strength of the troop.s participating in the action 
amounted to 15,600 nien/^ 44 guns, 14 of which were naval 
guns. Loss, 143 dead and 756 wounded; total, 899. This 
gives only a loss of 5.8 per cent; but in this are not included 
the missing, among whom were undoubtedly man}^ dead. 
Estorff gives 70 officers and 1,040 men, of whom 28 officers 
and 203 men were missing or captured. Miiller, on the other 
hand, gives 1,197 men and 66 officers, among whom 15 offi- 
cers and 348 men captured. Gilbert, 1,300 men. On the 
Avhole, a loss of 900 men dead and wounded ma}^ therefore be 
assumed, which is, however, not quite 6 per cent for the 
whole corps.* 

But the Royal Dublin Fusileers lost, according to Lindenau, 
23.9 per cent and the Connaught Rangers 16 per cent. As 
opposed to this, the Fusileer Battalion of the Guard lost, at 
St. Privat, 54 per cent, the First Battalion of the Fiftieth 
Regiment at Worth, 43 per cent; the Sixteenth Regiment at 
Mars-la-Tour, 68 per cent, and the Fifty-second 52 per cent, 
^loreover, the regiments of the Guard division (first) at 
St. Privat and of the Tenth Division at Worth lost on the 
average each as much as Buller's whole corps at Colenso. 

These numbers speak volumes. They show that the effect 
of the newest rifles can not be so extremely severe, as is so 
often assumed from the data of the target ranges, and that 
the conclusions associated therewith are inaccurate. 

The troop leading consisted only in the issuing of the order 
for the attack cind in giving the order for the retreat. When 
the latter was given there were still intact 2 battalions of the 
Sixth Brigade and the whole of the Fourth. Consequently, 
the question may be pertinently asked whether these troops 
should not also have been used in the attack on Hlangwane 
Hill and thus have made it possible to repair the mistake 
made at the beginning. 

We will not, however, give our opinion with absolute cer- 
tainty, as to whether General BuUer was right in ordering the 
retreat. It is a question whether he himself lost his presence 
of mind on account of the loss of a part of his artillery, or 

''According to Lindenau, Militiir-VVochenblatt, 3d supplement, 1902. 

^>The losses as given in the British official account were: Killed, 136 
officers and men; wounded, 762; missing, 228. Total, killed, wounded, 
and missing, 1,126. — Editor. 


whether he judo-ed correctl}' the situation of the troops en- 
gaged and the Boers' power of resistance. 

Above all was lacking careful inquiry and preparation. 
How can a properly planned advance be made against a for- 
tified position without taking proper steps to cross water 
lying in front of it? We were undoubtedly in the same fix 
at Worth, Init Worth was no planned l)attle. 

In the advance of the infantry the enormous difference, as 
already mentioned, between the methods and formations used 
b}^ the" Second and Fifth Brigades is very striking; that of 
the Fifth violated the simplest elementary rules of tactics in 
such a manner that no words are to be wasted on it. The 
brigade would have been shattered even if it had had no river 
in its front. 

The very same thing must be said of the advance of the 
First Artillery Brigade division into the skirmish line of the 
Second Brigade. To do this ma}^ be possible under condi- 
tions when the attack proceeds uninterruptedl}^, but in thus 
preparing the attack everything was done to make it mis- 
carry. Both batteries should have come into position at a 
point situated much farther to the rear. 

Under such leading the behavior of the troops must be 
appreciated so much the more. 

The effect of the artillery was small against the mountain 
position, except in the instance cited. The conduct of the 
Boers was wonderful. Artillery and infantry fire was saved 
for comparative!}^ short ranges. As the English gave way, 
detachments of Boers rushed forward and surrounded the 
English troops, which did not dare retreat from the ravines. 
But the numerical weakness of the Boers prohibited a real 


(See PI. 2.) 

BuUer now wanted to effect the relief of Ladysmith by a 
flank march to the left and an attack on the right flank of the 
Boers on the Tugela. He made elaborate preparations there- 
for. Since the Boers had, however, pushed forward their 
outposts across the Tugela to the region of Springfield, the 
preparations of the English were discovered and the Boers 
made theirs to efi'ect a strengthening of their right flank. 


Buller had at his disposal a total of over 30,000 men, but 
allowed 1 brigade with 2 batteries to remain in front of Colenso 
to make a demonstration. All the other troops, 20,000 men, 
with 60 guns, advanced b}^ the left flank in three echelons, 
but took 4-5 days to reach Springfield. 

The order of battle was: The Tenth Brigade (Coke), directly 
under the commander in chief. 

Warren's division: Fourth and Eleventh Brigades (Lyttel- 
ton and Woodgate). 

Clery's division: Second and Fifth Brigades (Hildyard and 

Cavalry: General Dundonald, 3 cavalry line regiments, 
besides mounted infantry. Imperial Light Horse, Natal Car- 
bineers, and South African Light Horse. 

Artillery: 8 naval guns, 9 batteries, one of which was a how- 
itzer battery. 

The Boers had retreated to their positions behind the great 
Tugela. The right bank slopes steeply down to the river. 
The left bank consists of abruptl}^ rising craggy masses of 
mountains, of which Taba-Mj^ama, Spion Kop, and Brakfon- 
tein are the most prominent. The Boer position extended at 
first from Spion Kop to Kranz-Kloof, and later on the right 
flank was extended to Taba-Myama. (Plate IL) Botha com- 
manded about 4,000 men and 6 guns. 

General Warren had been intrusted by Buller with the 
immediate direction of the operation. The general intention 
was to turn the right flank of the Boers and press forward to 
Lad3^smith from Acton-Homes. Such plans would succeed 
only through promptness. The difiiculties caused by the bad 
roads had frustrated any surprise on account of the slowness 
of the march. " 

On the 15th of elanuary Buller's headquarters was at Spear's 
Camp, south of Springfield. Lyttelton's brigade was directed 
toward Potgieter's Drift. Warren's division with its two 
brigades was to cross at Trichard's Drift and make a flank 

« The English line of communication, Gilbert rightly observes, was 
transferred from the railroad line Pietermaritzburg-Chieveley to the line 
of highroad Frere-Priitorius-Springfield farm. Instead of making the 
convoys secure on this line, Buller dragged along right behind him a pro- 
vision train of 650 wagons, which required 5,000 oxen. 


Lyttelton forded tlie swollen Tugela on January 1<) and 
occupied One Tree Height, where he intrenched. 

Warren likewise effected the intended crossing- and occupied 
a few smaller heights on the left bank. The Boers had every- 
where retreated to their mountain positions and opposed the 
crossing only. The cavalry under Dundonald, ascending 
boldly through the Venter Valley, had reached on the 18th of 
January a kopje in the vicinity of Acton-Homes and repulsed 
a detachment of Boers. He awaited the now momentarily 
expected appearance of Warren's division, but this did not 
come. Warren sent him the order several times to return to 
Trichard's Drift, because he believed that he could not bring- 
up his provisions in proper time over the long road from 
Acton- Homes to Devdorp. According to other accounts, a 
position taken by the Boers at Devdorp was the reason why 
this turning movement had to be given up. Here again only 
the frontal attack remained to the English. 

The attacks of Lyttelton and Warren on the positions from 
Brakfontein to Taba-Myama lasted from January 18 to 22, 
and were repulsed, notwithstanding the participation of 
Clery's division. The English captured a few heights eveiy- 
where, l)ut were unable to advance against the principal posi- 
tion of the Boers. Their attack formations consisted of dense 
skirmish lines, with troops following in close order. The 
artiller3^ installed on isolated kopjes, was unable to do any- 
thing against the high, cragg}' positions of the Boers. 

Buller therefore approved of Warren's proposal to take 
Spion Kop by a night attack. 

This movement, executed by 3^; battalions of Woodgate's 
brigade, succeeded in gaining possession, with quite a small 
loss, at 3 o'clock in the morning of January 21, of the w^eakly 
occupied southwestern point of the triangular flat top of Spion 
Kop. The English evidently believed that they had possession 
of the whole mountain, because they intrenched at the south- 
western point. But this was not so, because the flat top rises 
toward a transverse height, which lies about 600 meters from 
the English shelter trenches and covers the approach to the 
northern part of Spion Kop. Notwithstanding the darkness 
and a thick fog, it remains inexplicable that the English did 
not advance at least to the ridge crossing the top. Failure 
to do this resulted in severe punishment. 


Botha iimnediately directed the lire of several heavy ^uns 
against Spion Kop, from Taba-Myama and other heights, 
and advanced in two columns of a few hundred men, followed 
b}^ 2 Maxim guns, against the northern slope which was 
ascended undisturbed b}^ the English. The English posts on 
the cross ridge were overthrown and the Maxims were brought 
up. The Boers advanced to the attack by groups, clinging in 
their usual manner to the ground strewn with boulders, but 
did not succeed in driving the English from the ground taken. 
On the other hand, the attempt of the English to gain more 
ground succeeded just as litttle. 

L3^ttelton, who had been charged with the advance against 
Brakfontcin, had in the meantime attempted his attack. Dur- 
ing this movement he received a request for reinforcements 
from the troops on Spion Kop, which he answered b}^ dispatch- 
ing two battalions. The Koyal Rifles ascended the mountain 
from the east side, while the Scottish Rifles enveloped it from 
the south and west side. The first mentioned reached the 
summit of Spion Kop and threatened therefore the left flank of 
the Boers, but could extend no farther and made no progress; 
the Scotts pressed into the dense mass of the other troops 
without being able to add any weight in the balance, because 
the troops were extremely exhausted on account of lack of 
water and by their exertions, and were exposed continually to 
concentrated fire, closely packed, without space for deploying 
and without artiller}-. Altogether, 7i battalions were massed 
on Spion Kop. General Woodgate had fallen and the com- 
mand devolved first upon Colonel Crofton, then upon General 
Coke, and finally upon Colonel Thorn3^croft. Warren had 
sent the first-mentioned, orders b}^ heliograph to hold out to 
the last, and had then very late ordered one mountain battery, 
naval guns, and working parties to proceed to the height, but 
it was too late. Thornycroft had issued the order for retreat 
at 8 o'clock. With this the new attempt at reinforcing was 
frustrated. The attempts made by Buller 8 days later to 
break through at Kranz-Kloof were likewise unsuccessful, 
and he retreated to the camp at Chieveley and Frere. 

The English losses from January 23 to 24 amounted to 
1,437 dead and wounded, or 7 per cent of all the troops that 
had been present on the Imttlefield. Gilbert gives a loss of 
only 1,1.50 men. If it is assumed that 1,000 men of this 


number fall to the troops used on Spion Kop, which were 
5,000 strong, the loss would amount to 20 per cent. But 
herein are not included the captured and missing. The first 
are said to have included several hundred men. According 
to Lindenau, the Royal Lancaster regiment lost 17 and the 
Lancashire Fusileers 17.2 per cent. 

What, now, can be learned from this action in favor of new 
tactics? Very little, according to my opinion. The losses of 
the English at Spion Kop were certainl}^ not small, but did 
not, by far, reach those of many German organizations at 
Worth, Spicheren, Colombe}^, Vionville, Mars-la-Tour, Grave- 
lotte, and in part at Sedan. But these losses were inflicted 
with a single-loader, whereas the Boers carried an excellent 
modern multi-loader. Even if the missing are excluded from 
the list, as Lindenau does, the total number lost would not at 
all reach ours and man}^ of the French losses in 1870. Those 
of the Russians at Plevna also exceeded the losses of the 
English. I will not deny that the multi-loader has, in certain 
instances, obtained a shattering effect on account of its range 
and rapid fire (the flat trajectory has no influence in the 
mountains), but the verdict must, on the whole, be that the 
English attacks did not fail on account of the effect of modern 
weapons, but on account of the unfavorable ground and the 
conditions connected therewith, and, finally, on account of 
faulty direction of the fighting. 

The aimless wandering about for several days, which caused 
attacks to be made at diflerent points instead of making one 
principal attack with concentrated forces against a single point 
of the right flank of the Boers, is excusable on account of the 
lack of maps and information concerning the extent of the 
Boer position toward the west. But the continual fighting and 
cannonading contributed to the weakening of the strength and 
nerves of the troops. There are undoubtedly some men who, 
the longer the noise of the fight and the whistling of bullets 
continue, the more they become accustomed thereto, but the 
nerves of the majority will be shattered. Then the lack of 
concert and of energy in leading on the 21th of January, on 
which day everything should have been engaged, caused a con- 
siderable number of troops to remain inactive.^' Finally, the 

« Lindenau, with whom we fully ^gree here, states 11^ battalions. 


proper connection was lacking between the troops engaged 
and the commander of the attack, General Warren. 

But we are also of the opinion that General Buller should 
have proceeded to Trichard's Drift on the 24th. Here he 
could have taken in the situation with his own eyes and per- 
sonally asserted his authority. The principle which we espe- 
cially maintain at present, that the commander in chief 
shall remain at a suitable point behind the fighting line, so as 
not to let himself be influenced by the impression of isolated 
incidents in the fighting, is on the whole correct, and is espe- 
cially applicable to our large armies, but should not keep the 
commander in chief from proceeding to the decisive point, of 
course not in the first line, at especially critical moments. 

If the principle of his remaining in rear was to be consid- 
ered binding in all cases, it would be to renounce entirel}^ the 
influence of the commander's personality on the subordinate 

But what is especially noticeable in this action is the small 
efiect of the English artillery, which had here 60 guns against 
6. This ma}^ be a hint to us not to overestimate the power of 
the artiller}^, because, although great actions will not be 
fought on similar ground in Europe, similar phenomena may 
present themselves in mountainous countries. 

The absence of smoke has also here been of decided impor- 
tance, because information and observation of the fight have 
become much more difiicult to the commander. 

The English troops accomplished in those da3^s of fighting 
everything that could be expected of good men. We must 
not underestimate the difiiculties that confronted both the 
leaders and the men. 

The Boer leaders showed fine skill in divining the inten- 
tions of their adversar}^ and in their counter precautions. 
The tool did not fail, because the movements of the mounted 
Boer infantr}^ were certainly executed rapidly. The offensive 
of the Boers at Spion Kop was skillfully executed, but with 
small forces, and although the\^ did not succeed in driving 
the English down from Spion Kop, they^ caused them to evac- 
uate it by means of their enveloping fire effect. 

But this attack can not be taken as a proof of the general 
excellence of their methods, which were here imposed on 
them in due form b}" the ground. 


The Eng-lish troops had the (ireattind Little Tiioela at their 
l)acks. A .simple pressing forward of the Boers would have 
brouglit about a defeat. This did not take place on aceotint 
of their lack of discipline, of understanding- of the situation, 
and of energetic will power on the pai't of the superior 


To the western theater of operations was sent, from the 
reinforcements that had arrived, the first division, under 
Lieutenant-General Lord Methuen, with the object of relieving 
Kimberle}^ and Mafeking. The complete division consisted 
of the First (Guards) Brigade, 4 battalions; the Third (High- 
lander) Brigade (Wauchope), 4 battalions; the Ninth Brigade 
(Pole-Carew), 3i battalions; besides 1 battalion of the Gor- 
don Highlanders, 1 naval brigade of 1,500 men, one-half bat- 
talion of mounted infantr}^, 2 lancer regiments, 5 batteries, 
1 naval gun, and 1 pioneer company with a balloon section. 
The total number amounted to about 12,000 men, but the fol- 
lowing had not 3^et arrived: The Third Brigade, and of the 
Ninth li battalions was still lacking, as was also 1 battery, 
so that the total was reduced to about 9,000 men. 

General Cronje commanded the Boers in the west; he left 
the siege of Kimberley and Mafeking to separate detachments, 
and decided to throw himself with his main force in front of 
General Methuen. 

General Methuen, eager to advance, started with his still 
incompletely equipped force, on the 22d of November, from 
the camp at Orange Kiver and advanced against Belmont. The 
country has here quite a different character from that on the 
Tugela. The theater of operations is on the whole hilly, 
from which rise isolated craggy kopjes, especially on the 
northern bank of the Modder River. 

Cronje had pushed forward some detachments to delay the 
British advance as much as possible and determine their 
strength. He kept his main body back. 

The actions fought with these detachments during the 
advance of the English are called Belmont and Gras Pan. 
They were characterized by this, that the weak Boer detach- 
ments awaited their adversary on intrenched hills and opened 
fire at short ranges; then, when threatened by superior forces 


in front and flank, they threw themselves on their horses and 
made a stand at the next ridge, so that the Eng-Hsli were 
compelled to make repeated attacks, which cost them very 
many men. 

The English by no means forgot to threaten the flanks of 
their adversary in these flghts, but they advanced, on tlie 
other hand, in the morning at Belmont, in closed masses with- 
out the necessary reconnaissance, and were flred into at short 
range. The Boers had onlj^ 600 men and 2 guns at Behnont 
and 1,500 men and 6 guns at Gras Pan. The English losses 
amounted to 500 men, quite considerable for advance-guard 
actions. The Boers in the meantime retreated to Riet River, 
the northern bank of which Cronje held with about 7,000 men 
and 10 guns. 


(See PL 3.) 

Methuen halted in his advance on the 27th of November at 
Klockfontein, about 8 kilometers south of Modder River (see 
Sketch III). Modder River is the station at which the rail- 
road crosses Riet River, west of the place where the Modder 
flows into the Riet. The rivers were swollen and they have a 
strong current, but can be forded in several places. The 
northern bank rises throughout above the southern, and the 
width varies from 250 to 300 meters. The railroad bridge 
had been destroyed. There is a dam at the confluence of the 
Modder and the Riet. 

Contact with the Boers had been lost on the 27th of Novem- 
ber. Methuen himself reconnoiters and discovers from the 
left bank of the Riet no trace of the Boers. Other reconnais- 
sances had the same result. Incredible, but true! 

Methuen, who had considered whether he ought not to 
march on Jacobsdal — which road Lord Roberts followed later — 
but afterwards decided on crossing the Riet directly, gives 
therefore only one march order. He wants to cross the Riet 
at Modder River station and then await the arrival of the 
Third Brigade which had been assigned to him. 

But the intrenched line of the Boers extended from the 
Modder River Place to the point where the Riet makes a 
sharp bend from south to west. The guns were distributed 
in gun pits along this line. 


The Boer.s liad iilso thrown up shelter trenches on the south 
bank, which were partl}^ concealed by the brush growing 
along the bank, and had marked the distances to the front. 
The retreat across the Riet Kiv^er was secured as nujch as 
possible by means of rafts, ferries, and two fords at the Plod- 
der River station. 

The position of the Boers thus formed a crescent into which 
ran squarely the English division that marched on the railroad 
station. The Orange Boers held the right flank, which ex- 
tended from the Modder River station to the railroad, the 
Transvaalers the left. 

Methuen's division began its advance at 4 o'clock in the 
the morning. Its strength amounted to 9,000 men and 22 
guns, inclusive of 4 naval guns, because it had received the 
day before, reenforcements of 1^ battalions and 1 batter3\ 

General Methuen was now very much surprised to receive 
fire from the left flank of the Boers. He deployed his artil- 
lery against it in the positions shown in the sketch. An in- 
effective artiller}^ duel, lasting 2 hours, now began. The 
Boer artillery, with its superior material, held its position 
against the English. Still believing that he had only a rear 
guard in front of him. General Methuen ordered the infantry 
to attack, and the brigade of Guards advanced east, the Ninth 
Brigade Avest of the railroad, consequently right into the 
encircling crescent. 

The Boers open their rifle fire first at 700 meters and inform 
the English of their position. 

The brigade of Guards now turns against the left flank of 
the Boers and the Ninth against the right, so that the English 
fighting line formed an obtuse-angled triangle, which had its 
vertex at the railroad — one of the worst forms of attack that 
can be imagined, because both flanks would diverge more and 
more during the action. 

We ma}^ be brief. For 4 hours the rifle fire reverberates 
on both sides and nowhere do the English succeed, notwith- 
standing their artiller}^ supports them bravely by advancing, 
and although they arrive at a point as close as 500 to 600 
meters to the intrenched and invisible enemy, whom they fight 
in vain wdth skirmish fire and with volleys. No order reached 
the first line, neither were the ambulances able to approach, 
A suffocating heat of 43^ Celsius prevailed. 



The smokeless powder makes it impossible for the English 
to discover the position of the Boers in the shelter trenches 
on the southern bank of the river. The}^ tire continuall}' at 
the heights on the northern bank. 

An attempt made on the extreme right flank of the English 
to cross the Riet fails. 

General Methuen now orders the right flank of the Boers 
to be attacked. A large part of his artillery concentrates its 
tire on the dam, and this time with tolerable success. The 
Ninth Brigade takes the kraal lying south of the river; one 
detachment crosses the river on the dam and intrenches itself 
on the northern bank. In the evening English skirmishers 
even force their way into some houses at Modder River. ^' 

The fact is that the Orange Boers posted here lost courage 
and wanted to quit the field in complete demoralization, so 
that Cronje was compelled to evacuate the whole position in 
the evening. Kriiger's correspondence with Stein, in which 
he complains that man}^ Boers had remained in camp, confirms 
the pusillanimous conduct of the Orange Boers. On account 
of this, Stein addressed a stinging rebuke to the burghers. 

Although the English could consequently consider them- 
selves as victors, the}" did not think of following up their 
partial success. Great exhaustion and an incorrect estimate 
of the situation seems to have contributed thereto. The 
English losses amounted to 24 officers and 462 men; that is to 
say, about 5| per cent. 

I will state once more that there is no question of an enor- 
mous loss in the fighting, lasting nearl}" the whole day, and 
that notwithstanding the Mauser rifles of the Boers, notwith- 
standing their modern guns, and notwithstanding their skill 
in shooting. These lost about 100 men; according to oth- 
ers, 350. 

That the action at Modder River was a Pyrrhus victory 
was evident, since Methuen placed his troops in a camp at 
Modder River Station for a rest of several da3"S. 

What ma}" be said concerning Modder River follows to a 
large extent from our short account. The reconnaissance 
was miserable, and shows us that the cavalry and mounted 

« I follow here the work ' ' The South African War, ' ' by Captain Gilbert. 
Other accounts (Estorff, Miiller), speak only of the crossing of one small 
detachment at Modder River. 


infantry were compelled to obtain information })y dismounted 
fire action. When patrols ride forward and retreat aoain as 
soon as a shot is fired they do not exactly do enough nowa- 

The English did not perceive the retreat of the Boers, and 
contact was consequently not maintained after the action. 
We will not criticise this too hai'shly. How often has not the 
same erroi- been committed? 


(See PI. 4.) 

During the rest in the camp at Modder River, Methuen's 
communications were threatened several times by the bold 
enterprises of the Boers. But since he now had the whole 
Third Brigade (Highlander) with him, and since, furthermore, 
1 regiment of lancers, 1 horse battery, 4 mortars, and 1 naval 
gun had joined him, and he had a total force of 12,000 men 
and 23 guns,^' he determined to advance against the position 
which Cronje had taken up after his retreat from Riet River. 

The Boers, about 7,000 strong, with 13 guns, had taken 
position on the heights extending from the railroad in an east- 
erly direction, but their position was extended, by means of 
shelter trenches, from the southeastern slope to Moddei River. 
The guns were distributed along the heights, but the shelter 
trenches were thrown up not onW on the heights, but also at 
their foot. Cronje had this time placed a reserve in close 
order behind his left flank (Sketch IV). 

The reconnaissance of this position, lying so close to the 
English, was again defective as at Colenso and Riet River. 
Its terminating points had not at all been ascertained, and yet it 
must be inferred that the disposable cavalry and the mounted 
infantry, would have been sufficient to carry out such a recon- 
naissance, either on the road to Jacobsdal or in the direction 
of the railroad. 

On December 9, Methuen ordered the Boer position bom- 
barded with 1 naval gun. The Boers did not stir. 

The division advanced on December 10, halted a few thou- 
sand meters in front of the position on the heights, and bom- 

« Gilbert, "South African War," gives 15,000, which seems much too 


barded it for several hours with artillery, without the Boers 
answering, exactly as at Colenso. 

Lord Methuen now determined to attack the left flank of 
the Boers. The Highland Brigade advanced during the night 
between the 10th and 11th, in close columns, without any 
scouts in front, in the direction of the southeast extremity of 
the enemy's position on the height, and along the road to 
Kimberley, fortunately crossed the wire entanglements, but 
received in the darkness, at 200 to 300 meters, such an amii- 
hilating Are that they recoiled, which is the modern military 
expression for running awa}^, and could not again be brought 
to a stand until at 800 meters from the enemy. We believe 
that no troops led forward in that manner would have done 
any differently. Isolated attempts to advance again were 
soon given up. A terrific Are action now began. 

When dawn came the artillery went into action, to which 
the Boers replied at first with a Maxim gun. But the English 
artillery did not succeed in subduing the hostile infantry fire. 

Methuen now sent the Guards against the Boers' left flank, 
which extended clear to the Modder River. Three battalions 
were in the first line and one in reserve. These brave troops, 
who were inspired by the highest sense of honor and the 
most glorious traditions, sustained a fire fight lasting many 
hours and also reached the wire entanglemants, but did not 
com.e to an assault. The English artillery advanced bravely 
to within 1,100 meters of the enemy without being able to 
shatter their power of resistance. The Ninth Brigade had 
taken up a position in support. 

The Gordon Highlanders had ])een pushed forward to pro- 
tect the line of artillery and support the Highland Brigade; 
they now attempted an attack, but were repulsed at the wire 
entanglements. On the other hand, a turning movement on 
the part of the Boers miscarried against the left wing of the 
Yorkshires, who had been sent to Brown Drift. 

The Boers had, in the meantime, deployed their artiller}^ 
against the Highland Brigade, had renewed their rifle fire, and 
had advanced against the brigade in small bodies, stealing 
skillfully across the ground according to their method. And 
now something happened which does not redound to the glory 
of the celebrated English troops, who had in the meantime 
been reenforced by the battalion of Gordon Hiolilanders. A 


great iiiany ran to the rear. They rallied ])ehind the FLno-lish 
artillery, which they left unproteeted; l)ut as a few shrapnel 
reached them they aoain continued their flight to the ain})u- 
lances. As the Boers again made attempts to attack the left 
flank, Methuen gave up the tight as lost an